Photos have been released for the first time in years showing a group of rare gorillas in the mountains of southern Nigeria, conservationists say.
Seven Cross River gorillas including infants were pictured at the Mbe Mountains Community Forest in Cross River by the Wildlife Conservation Society in May and June.
Only 300 Cross River gorillas are known to live in the wild, making them the most endangered sub-species.
But the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says this sighting raises hopes that the animals at risk of extinction are actually reproducing.
A number of infant gorillas are visible in the shots taken earlier this year.
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WCS in Nigeria, an international non-governmental organisation, said the pictures were captured by camera traps in the Mbe mountains.
Cross River gorillas are the world’s rarest great ape, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) says.
They are naturally wary of humans and have subtle distinctions from other species, such as smaller heads, longer arms and lighter-coloured hair.
The primates were known to live in some mountainous areas in Nigeria and neighbouring Cameroon but are rarely seen.
The WCS says it is working closely with a community organisation, the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains, as well as authorities in Nigeria’s Cross River state to protect the primates.