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WCS, Cross River Govt Sign MoU To Protect Cross River Gorilla And Other Endangered Species

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Gov. Ben Ayadeism

By Andy Esiet, Calabar

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has signed a 10 year  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cross River State Government to Protect Cross River Gorillas and Other Endangered Species in the state.

The MoU which was signed on January 20 and made available to some newsmen on January , is for the ‘Collaboration and Mutual Support for the Management and Protection of Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mbe Mountains’.

 Dr Inyang Asibong, Commissioner of the Ministry of International Development Cooperation, represented the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Prof. Ben Ayade, at the signing ceremony. 

Dr Asibong remarked that “the continuous protection, maintenance and rehabilitation of wildlife and their sanctuaries is a top priority for Cross River State”.

She went on to say that, “we must do everything possible to preserve our remaining wildlife as it has unquantifiable benefits for mankind”. 

On his part, the xplained the importance of Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mbe Mountains and stated that: “Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mbe Mountains in Boki LGA are internationally recognised biodiversity hotspots, supporting important populations of endangered species such as the Cross River gorilla and Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee”. 

The WCS Nigeria Country Director, Andrew Dunn, stated that “Cross River State is the most important site for biodiversity in the country and that WCS is proud to partner with Cross River State Government to help save the flagship sites of Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mbe Mountains and their endangered wildlife”.

Cross River Gorilla

Due to past hunting it is estimated that only 100 Cross River gorillas survive in Cross River State, with an additional 200 found in neighboring Cameroon.

Cross River gorillas are classified as ‘critically endangered’ which means that they are on the very edge of extinction.

In Nigeria Cross River gorillas are found in three different sites: Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, the Mbe Mountains and Cross River National Park and the main threats to the survival of Cross River gorillas are hunting and habitat destruction due to farming and logging. 

Managed by the Cross River State Forestry Commission, the habitat of Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary is rapidly being eroded by faming and logging.

The Mbe Mountains are managed by the Conservation Association of the Mbe ntains (CAMM), with support from WCS.

The WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.  WCS works in 60 countries across the globe to support conservation with local, national, and international stakeholders.  From its country office in Calabar, WCS has been working in Nigeria since 2001, and currently supports the conservation of three protected areas in Cross River State as well as Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State. 

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