The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the government of Cameroon have just created a new national park to preserve habitat for the Cross River gorilla, the world’s most endangered great ape.
Besides the Cross River gorillas, the 261 square mile Takamanda National Park will also protect populations of forest elephants, chimpanzees, and a rare primate and close relative of the mandrill, the drill.
Takamanda also forms part of a trans-boundary protected area with Cross River National Park in Nigeria, safeguarding about 115 gorillas (a third of the Cross River gorilla population). Trans-boundary protected areas allow species to roam freely between nations.
“The Government of Cameroon is to be commended for taking this step in saving the Cross River gorilla for future generations. By forming this national park, Cameroon sends a powerful message about the importance of conservation.” - Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of WCS
The Cross River gorilla, the rarest of the four gorilla subspecies, is threatened by habitat destruction caused by farming and road-building, as well as hunting by bushmeat hunters. The other subspecies are the western lowland gorillas, eastern lowland or “Grauer’s” gorillas, and mountain gorillas. WCS is the only conservation group working to safeguard the four subspecies, all classified as “critically endangered” or “endangered” by the IUCN Red List.
Funding for the creation of Takamanda National Park comes from a partnership between the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and the German Development Bank as part of a 5-year funding program that protects key conservation areas through collaboration with southwest Cameroon communities. The initiative is also supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), and the German Development Service (DED).
“This represents a huge step in ensuring a future for the world’s rarest great ape. Making this former forest reserve a national park will effectively protect these gorillas and will continue the conservation partnership between Cameroon and Nigeria.” - Dr. James Deutsch, Director of WCS-Africa
The creation of Takamanda represents years of work by WCS and the Cameroon Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, including baseline surveys of gorillas and other large mammals, agreements with local communities, recommendations for upgrading the reserve to park status, and establishment of trans-boundary activities with the Okwangwo Division of Cross River National Park in Nigeria.
Source: Wildlife Conservation Society