01 Feb 2012:
New Gorilla Habitat
Discovered Using Satellite Images
Satellite and land surveys of the mountainous terrain along the Nigeria-Cameroon border have revealed that the world’s rarest gorilla, the Cross River gorilla, has access to more suitable habitat than previously believed
, including vital corridors that allow the gorillas to move between regions in search of mates.
A Cross River gorilla
Using satellite imagery and ground surveys, a team of researchers was able to map areas preferred by the critically endangered gorilla, which include steep mountain areas far from human development. To their surprise, researchers found evidence that the Cross River gorilla dwells in areas where there had been no recorded sightings, expanding their known occupied range by more than 50 percent. The study also found a high degree of connectivity between 11 areas where the gorillas are known to live. “The good news for Cross River gorillas is that they still have plenty of habitat in which to expand, provided that steps are taken to minimize threats to the population,” said Andrew Dunn, a conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and co-author of the study, published in the journal Oryx
. The Cross River gorilla is considered the rarest of the four sub-species of gorilla, with fewer than 300 individuals living in the wild.