Gorillas in Nigeria: World's rarest great ape pictured with babies

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Cross River gorillasImage source, WCS
Image caption,
Only 300 Cross River gorillas are known to live in the wild

Photos have been released for the first time in years showing a group of rare gorillas in the mountains of southern Nigeria, conservationists say.

Only 300 Cross River gorillas are known to live in the wild, making them the most endangered sub-species.

But the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says this sighting raises hopes that the animals at risk of extinction are actually reproducing.

A number of infant gorillas are visible in the shots taken earlier this year.

Image source, WCS Nigeria
Image caption,
The inquisitive primates were pictured earlier this year
Image source, WCS Nigeria
Image caption,
Conservationists say they are encouraged by the number of infant gorillas spotted

WCS in Nigeria, an international non-governmental organisation, said the pictures were captured by camera traps in the Mbe mountains.

'Wary of humans'

Cross River gorillas are the world's rarest great ape, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says.

They are naturally wary of humans and have subtle distinctions from other species - such as smaller heads, longer arms and lighter-coloured hair.

The primates were known to live in some mountainous areas in Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon but are rarely seen.

The WCS says it is working closely with a community organisation, the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains, as well as authorities in Nigeria's Cross River state to protect the primates.

Image source, WCS Nigeria
Image caption,
This silverback was among the gorillas pictured in the Mbe mountains