|Posted by Regina Fonjia Leke on March 26, 2013 at 9:55 AM|
A community of Pinyin people in Santa Subdivision, NW Cameroon, March 1, 2013 reportedly killed an over 40-year-old Silver-back Cross River Gorilla in coldblood. The critically endangered species had reportedly strayed from the proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in the Lebialem Highlands in the Southwest Region of Cameroon.
The locals allegedly used some 45 cartridges to shoot the gorilla and went on to finish the ape with several blows delivered with clubs and stones, leaving the animal in a pool of its own blood says acommuniqué released by the Environment and Rural development Foundation,(ERuDeF).
According to the release, ERuDeF’s wildlife expert, Neba Bede, dispatched to the scene on March 5, discovered that the Silver-back was killed following the orders of theChief of Gendarmerie Brigade based in Pinyin in the name of “self defense”without conducting the necessary security checks to ensure that this critically endangered animal is not causing any security dangers to the local people.
A local teacher going to her farm early in the morning of March 1 had reported the presence of the Gorilla about 1KM from the village.
Speaking at a press briefing in Buea, the Executive Director of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi said the death of this critically endangered ape remains a huge loss to the conservation world given that the ape is Africa’s rarest and most threatened primate and one of the world’s 25 most threatened wildlife species. “Only 300 of them live in the wild between the Nigeria-Cameroon borders Region.” Louis added.
The Northwest Regional Delegate for Forestry and Wildlife, Mbah Grace regretted the loss of this totally protected human cousin and re-iterated the efforts of her ministry to increase the community sensitization in the border areas of theTofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary based in the NW Region.
TheSouthwest Regional Chief of service in charge of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Emmanuel Eboule, equally regretted the reckless killing of the Cross RiverGorilla and said that government through the Ministry of Forestry would take appropriate measures to see that this kind of incident does not repeat itself.
In 2004, a new sub population of the Cross River Gorillas was discovered by ERuDeF’s scientists in the now proposed Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary. Since 2010, the Government of Cameroon through the technical assistance of ERuDeF has been working to complete the creation of this very important Sanctuary, which is home to about 40 Cross River Gorillas and over 150 Nigeria-Cameroon Chimpanzees and a range of other endangered species of fauna and flora.
Only a very small number of Cross River Gorillas have been sighted in Tofala. The most recent was on the 24th February, 2013 by the Divisional Officer for Wabane Sub Division, Innocent Moni, in Besali forest on his way to Menji. “The presence of this Gorilla about 33km away from Tofala is a good proof to explain the fact that theTofala Gorillas are not isolated and still maintain a genetic gene flow with the other Gorilla sub populations in the Takamanda forest area, as few Gorilla sightings have been recorded between Tofala and Takamanda forests” says Louis Nkembi.
The killing of this Silver-back in Pinyin provides a more glaring proof about the plight o f this elusive wildlife species, that there is no hope for them out of formal protected areas. The migration of this killed silver back is also a testimony of the intense human pressure that the Gorillas in the Tofala forests are facing. This pressure includes very high forest conversion to farms and poaching.
ERuDeF and its partners are thus urging the Government of Cameroon to speed up the Process to complete the creation of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and the other proposed sites in the Lebialem Highlands Conservation Complex. Otherwise,the world might just be bidding farewell to the last 60 Gorillas and over 400 Chimpanzees living in the forest of the Lebialem Highlands and its corridors.