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Extinction Of Cross River Gorillas Feared 

By Elvis Tah

Fears are rife that the Cross River Gorilla, a highly endangered primate, might soon go extinct.
The CEO of a Buea-based NGO, Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, expressed the worry during a press briefing recently.

Nyango – one of the surviving cross river gorilla at the Limbe Wildlife Centre

"Gorillas are one of the most seriously threatened species worldwide. They are only found in Africa, which is plagued by war and diseases, hence reducing the gorilla population. There are just about 300 Cross River gorillas in the world and if nothing is done to protect them, they will be wiped out," Nkembi said. He said ERuDeF envisages creating two protected areas; the Bechati gorilla sanctuary in Lebialem and the Mak-betchuo Lebialem Kupe Muanenguba sanctuary.

Nkembi said ERuDeF, which is dedicated to wildlife conservation of great apes and gorillas and their habitats, is collaborating with the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to map out wildlife sanctuaries, by providing technical and financial support. "We have carved out our landscape, which includes Lebialem-Mone forest landscape, Kupe Muanenguba, Manyu, Lebialem and Momo Divisions, for the conservation of the last great apes and mitigating climate change in Cameroon," Nkembi said.

The ERuDeF CEO, who was taking stock of the NGO’s activities for the past nine years, said ERuDeF’s 10th anniversary celebration coincides with the 2009 Year of Gorilla declared by the United Nations.

He said commemorative activities ahead of the anniversary celebration billed for December 9-12, will include a symposium and a press briefing at Alliance Franco-Camerounaise, AFC Buea, a visit to the Limbe Wildlife Centre, a mini-marathon race from Mile 17 to Upper Farms, a drawing contest on gorilla and an essay writing competition on the impact of climate change and a gala dinner.

Quizzed on the problems faced by the NGO in its quest for nature conservation, Nkembi said ERuDeF operates under a board of directors; consequently, most of the board members are only interested in what they can amass from donors. Nkembi adds: "Communities see NGOs as coming to solve all their problems, which is not supposed to be the case. At times it is difficult to convince the society on the importance of conservation," he said.

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