First Images Taken of Rare Gorilla with Babies

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A conservation group has captured the first images of rare Cross River gorillas with their babies. Scientists once feared that this rare kind of gorilla had disappeared from existence. But, the images show it is reproducing as efforts to protect the animal continue.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, or WCS, had placed cameras in an area of Nigeria's Mbe mountains, where the Cross River gorillas live. The organization recently released the images, which were taken in May. The camera captured images of Cross River gorilla adults and babies.

A statement on the group's website describes Cross River gorillas as "the most threatened ape in Africa." These gorillas live in a small mountainous area at the beginning of the River Cross, along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Only around 300 Cross River gorillas were known to be alive in the area, noted WCS.

Although illegal hunting is common in the area, the Cross River gorilla is rarely a target of such activity, says WCS. But hunters often use animal traps that represent a threat to the gorilla's survival.

John Oates is a former professor at the City University of New York and a primatologist. He helped establish conservation efforts for the gorillas more than 20 years ago.

"It was great to see ... evidence that these gorillas in these mountains are reproducing successfully because there have been so few images in the past," he told The Associated Press. "We know very little about what is going on with reproduction with this subspecies, so to see many young animals is a positive sign."

I'm John Russell.

Carley Petesch reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

conservation – n. the protection of animals, plants, and natural resources

ape – n. a type of animal (such as a chimpanzee or gorilla) that is closely related to monkeys and humans and that is covered in hair and has no tail or a very short tail

primatologist – n. a scientist who studies primates

subspecies – n. a group of related plants or animals that is smaller than a species: a division of a species

positive – adj. thinking that a good result will happen: hopeful

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