December 04 2020 – Cecily Morgan
With a population of just 300, Cross River Gorillas aren’t just critically endangered, but the rarest great apes on earth. It’s thought that their numbers plummeted by almost 60% between 1995 and 2010, a startling statistic that underlines just how precious they are and just how much they need our protection.
Dwelling in mountainous areas around the Nigeria-Cameroon border at the top of the Cross River (which is where their name comes from), Cross River Gorillas live in small groups that usually consist of one male, six to seven females, and their offspring. At first glance, they look very similar to other species of gorilla, but there are several details that make them distinct. For example, they’re slightly smaller than other gorillas, with smaller faces and ears and shorter statures.
When it comes to habitat, Cross River Gorillas thrive in dense forests far away from any humans. Although they’re slightly smaller than other gorilla species, they’re still very big apes and need a roomy habitat. However, their territory is unfortunately shrinking, with unoccupied patches of forest becoming scarce because of deforestation. Large areas of their forest home are being cleared to make room for human settlements, mining, and agriculture, which has a huge impact on this species.
Their size makes them slow to adapt and slow to reproduce, so they can’t easily bounce back from the devastating results of deforestation and habitat loss. This isn’t just affecting their home, but also their behaviour. Compared to other gorillas species, Cross River Gorillas are feisty when faced with humans - they’ve been known to throw sticks and clumps of grass at researchers. Sadly, it’s thought that this boldness could be because they’ve become used to seeing people near their habitat - an experience that shouldn’t be a regular occurrence for these gorillas.
Although the situation is clearly bad, the Cross River Gorilla hasn’t yet passed the point of no return because there’s still enough land for them to survive. However, this won’t be the case for much longer if their habitat continues to be destroyed, so the best way to save this species is to protect its home. This is exactly what the WWF is doing, and exactly what our latest release will be supporting.
We’ve made 300 beautiful sweatshirts to represent the 300 Cross River Gorillas left in the world, giving 300 people the chance to join the fight for this species. Each sweatshirt features the number 300 on the back to represent the number of these gorillas remaining in the wild and an embroidered gorilla on the breast, which will serve as a badge of honour for the animal-loving wearer and a thoughtful reminder of why the sweatshirt is so important.
They give a whole new meaning to wear your heart on your sleeve and if you want to join the fight to protect Cross River Gorillas, head to our shop to get yours.