A new census by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released today reveals a dense and healthy population of western lowland gorillas living in Cameroon’s Deng Deng National Park – and an adjacent logging concession.
But the report warns that gorillas need to be protected in both areas if the population is to remain viable.
The census estimated a total of between 300 and 500 gorillas in Deng Deng and the logging concession, with about half living in the park. According to the report, gorillas move freely between the park and logging area. However, a road separates the two areas leaving gorillas vulnerable to poachers.
“Protecting this gorilla population, and guaranteeing its future, absolutely requires protecting the gorillas in the logging concession as well as in the park,” said James Deutsch, WCS Director for Africa Programs.
The results of the census came from counts of ape nests along line transects, a standard method for estimating great ape populations. The density of gorillas found in Deng Deng is about the same as Gabon’s Lopé National Park and Congo’s Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, both well-known ape conservation sites in Central Africa.
Created in 2010, Deng Deng National Park supports the northernmost population of western lowland gorillas and is physically isolated from potential Ebola epidemics that have affected other great ape populations in Central Africa. Chimpanzees, forest elephants, buffaloes, and bongo also occur in the protected area, though poaching and illegal logging have impacted local wildlife numbers.
Roger Fotso, director of WCS’s Cameroon Program, said: “For a small area, this is an extremely important site for gorilla conservation. It is also important because this is the northern-most population of western lowland gorillas, and because it is accessible to the capital Yaoundé and so a possible future site for tourism.”
WCS is grateful to Cameroon’s Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife and the French Development Agency AFD for working to protect the gorillas over the past three years.
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