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Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Rare Cross River gorilla filmed
By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

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Elusive subspecies (video courtesy of NDR Naturfilm)

Rare footage has been taken of an elusive and critically endangered type of gorilla.

Film of the formerly camera-shy Cross River gorilla was captured in the forests of Cameroon by a team from Hamburg-based NDR Naturfilm.

The team says it is the first professionally shot film of the gorilla taken, and the animal has only once before been caught on camera.

Fewer than 300 Cross River gorillas, a western gorilla subspecies, remain.

We identified and staked out some of the gorillas' favourite fig trees, which is where we finally achieved our goal
Dr. Roger Fotso
Director of WCS-Cameroon

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which supported the expedition to film the ape, the only previous footage available of Cross River gorillas was taken by a field researcher using a shaky, hand-held camera and from a long distance in 2005.

Wary apes

"These gorillas are extremely wary of humans and are very difficult to photograph or film," says Dr. Roger Fotso, Director of WCS-Cameroon.

"Eventually, we identified and staked out some of the gorillas' favourite fig trees, which is where we finally achieved our goal."

Cross River gorillas live in roughly 11 subgroups, dispersed among highland areas along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

They are one of a number of subspecies of gorilla.

Cross River gorillas belong to the same species as western lowland gorillas, but differ in the dimensions of their skulls and teeth. They also behave slightly differently.

The other species of gorilla, the eastern gorilla, has three subspecies: the mountain gorilla, the Bwindi gorilla and the eastern lowland gorilla.



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