Cross River Gorillas — Denis Ndeloh Works to Save Them

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We are extremely pleased to report that Cameroonian scientist Denis Ndeloh Etiendem, recipient of Gorilla Foundation’s 2009-2010 Wildlife Protectors Award, is nearing completion of his vitally important study of the ecology of Cross River Gorillas, the most critically endangered gorilla subspecies. The Wildlife Protectors Award, inaugurated in 2006, honors and supports outstanding local great ape conservation efforts by African nationals. Ndeloh’s award was made possible by a generous donation from the Dawn Arnall Foundation.

Mr. Ndeloh used the $10,000 award to undertake a groundbreaking pilot study that has now expanded with support from Wildlife Conservation Society and the Antwerp Zoo into a complex investigation of the ecological relationships between people, gorillas, and chimpanzees living in fragmented pockets of forest around the Cross-Sanaga River region of South West Cameroon. Without intense conservation efforts the Cross River gorillas face imminent extinction. Mr. Ndeloh’s project focuses on the interspecies ecology of an isolated gorilla habitat in Southwest Cameroon’s Mawambi hills that has never before been studied or protected.

Mr. Ndeloh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Ecology at Vrije Universiteit Brussel and is the first Cameroonian from his area to pursue a PhD in primate conservation. He has just completed his second year in the bush, and will be analyzing data for his doctoral dissertation in Brussels beginning October 2011.

His work “will greatly enhance our understanding of the ape’s ecology and provide a dynamic picture of overlapping human-gorilla forest use, critical to the preservation of these amazing creatures,” says Gorilla Foundation President Dr. Penny Patterson. The Foundation’s Conservation Director, Dr. Anthony Rose, believes that the presence of Mr. Ndeloh and his research team has already reduced the threat to the gorilla population of the Mawambi region, thus setting the stage for permanent conservation and management plans to be installed in this area.

Thanks to your generous support in 2011, Ndeloh will be able to complete his research of extracting and analyzing DNA from gorilla fecal samples to determine the lineage of individual apes whose food selection, parasites, and bacterial typology has already been measured.

“The Gorilla Foundation has been a great supporter of the apes and it is difficult to overstate Koko’s influence as an ambassador for the species worldwide,” Mr. Ndeloh says. “I’m proud to have been honored with the Wildlife Protector’s Award and very thankful for the Foundation’s support in furthering our work to protect the Cross River Gorillas.”

Thank you for helping Mr Ndeloh make a difference to the survival of an entire subspecies of gorillas.