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Feeding ecology of Cross river gorillas: An evaluation of ecological and social factors influencing Cross river gorilla survival at Mawabi Hills, Cameroon

The Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) is the northern- and western-most subspecies of gorilla, endemic to the hilly rain-forests of the ‘Bight of Biafra’ region in the Gulf of Guinea, and whose survival is endangered by increasing pressure from hunting and habitat loss. Whereas many studies have been conducted on mountain gorillas, Grauer’s gorillas and western lowland gorillas, very little information is currently available on the ecology of CRG, despite its importance for conservation planning and an ecological study of this species in lowland forest has never been done. Over the last decade considerable ground has been gained in terms of conservation actions, however, to increase conservation efforts, more information on how gorillas use lowland forest sites and on how human activities within these habitats affect their ranging is essential for making informed conservation decisions. This dissertation presents findings on the ecological factors that affect the survival of a population of critically endangered Cross River gorillas, based on a two-year field study in a 43 km2 unprotected forest called the Mawambi Hills located on the southeast border of Takamanda National Park in southwest Cameroon. The objectives of this project were 1) to collect data on gorilla population size and social organization; 2) to document the feeding ecology of gorillas by studying the habitat characteristics and availability of gorilla food resources; and 3) to evaluate the socio-economic status of surrounding village communities and assess how their resource extraction activities might influence gorillas. The PhD thesis was completed and successfully defended in 2013, and three peer-reviewed publications emerged from the studies. Time line: PhD 2009-2013 Supervision: Nikki Tagg | Zjef Pereboom | Luc Hens (Free University Brussels / VITO) Funding: CRC / VLIR-UOS
Datum:1 dec 2009  →  1 dec 2013