Indexed on: 31 Oct '03Published on: 31 Oct '03Published in: Primates
A study on the distribution and population density of the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla g. gorilla) and the central chimpanzee (Pan t. troglodytes) was undertaken between December 1997 and August 2000 in the Campo and Ma'an Forests in southwestern Cameroon. The aim of this survey was to estimate the densities of the apes in different parts of the area, to assess the importance of the region for the conservation of these endangered species and to determine the influence of human activities such as logging and hunting. The survey was based on night nest counts on a total of 665.5 km of line transects. The overall density in the Campo Forest was estimated at 0.2 gorillas/km(2) and at 0.63-0.78 chimpanzees/km(2). The overall density of chimpanzees in the Ma'an Forest was estimated at 0.8-1 individuals/km(2). Gorilla density in this area was too low to allow an estimation. The highest gorilla nest density was found in secondary forest. The gorilla density in unlogged forest was significantly lower. Chimpanzees showed a clear preference for less disturbed areas. In unlogged forest, old secondary forests (logging more than 23 years ago) and areas of recent logging with large remaining patches of primary forest, significantly higher densities were calculated than inside the more heavily exploited logging concession. In areas with both logging and high hunting pressure both species were rare or even absent. The Campo Ma'an area is considered a very important area for the conservation of gorillas and chimpanzees. Conservation measures are urgently required to reduce the impact of logging and hunting. The creation of the Campo Ma'an National Park in January 2000 is an important measure to preserve the unique biodiversity in this so far hardly protected area.