Camera trap images have revealed an array of primates including rare gorillas in a tiny nature reserve in Nigeria, conservationists said.
Pictures released by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Nigeria programme also show other wildlife such as Red River hogs in the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, which at 38.6 square miles is smaller than the city of Paris.
The conservation charity said the images show Cross River gorillas, the rarest subspecies on the planet with a population of around 300 individuals.
There are also shots of other primates such as Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees and drills.
The sanctuary was established by Cross River state government in 2000 to protect Cross River gorillas and other endangered wildlife.
WCS said it was protected by 13 community rangers – one from each of the 13 communities surrounding the park – who are employed by the charity’s Nigeria programme.
The rangers patrol the sanctuary to discourage hunting and last year removed 2,405 wire snares, which are set for animals such as porcupines, hyrax and cane-rats, but can trap infant gorillas and pose a threat to the species’ recovery, the conservation group said.
WCS said logging and illegal farms were other problems faced by the sanctuary, and it was working with local cocoa farmers to improve sustainability and reduce forest loss by making existing farms more productive.
It has a conservation education programme which aims to gradually change behaviour and attitude towards wildlife, based around support for school conservation clubs and a weekly radio drama.
Dr Inaoyom Imong, director of WCS Nigeria’s Cross River landscapem said: “While Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary still faces challenges, these camera trap images give us hope and are a testimony that our conservation efforts are working.”