Spotting a newborn gorilla in the heart of the African rainforest is an incredibly rare feat; the primate mothers typically wait around four years between each birth and maintain a low-profile far removed from humans.
That’s what makes the latest observation so remarkable.
Conservationists from the WCS Congo Program have captured footage of a western lowland gorilla named Mekome cuddling her baby, who was thought to be just a week old at the time it was recorded.
In the adorable video, the newborn gorilla can be seen suckling and sleeping sprawled out across the chest of its doting mother.
Conservationists from the WCS Congo Program have captured footage of a western lowland gorilla cuddling her baby, who was thought to be just a week old when the pair was spotted
According to the WCS team, the baby is the latest fathered by a male silverback gorilla named Kingo.
It was born on February 17th near the Mondika Research Center in the Republic of Congo, in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park.
When they first spotted it, the baby may have been no more than a few hours old.
‘We’re very excited to be witness to the emergence of the next generation of Kingo’s growing clan,’ said Mark Gately, Director of WCS’s Republic of Congo Program.
‘A baby gorilla represents hope for the entire species.’
Mekome was already mother to four offspring before welcoming the fifth last month.
Gorilla babies spend two to three years after birth hanging onto their mother.
As seen in the video, mothers will cradle the newborn gorillas and carry them until they’re able to hold themselves up.
Then, the infants switch onto the mother’s back, where they cling on their own.
But, life isn’t easy for the young primates.
The experts say young gorillas often have low chances of surviving to adulthood, as a result of both natural and human-caused risks.
In the adorable video, the newborn gorilla can be seen suckling and sleeping sprawled out across the chest of its doting mother. Gorilla babies spend two to three years after birth hanging onto their mother
WHY ARE PRIMATE NUMBERS DECLINING IN THE WILD?
A study published in January 2017 warned that for most of the world’s 504 primate species, it is now ‘the 11th hour’ on earth – with nearly two thirds facing extinction and 75 per cent of populations in decline.
Researchers have warned the world’s primates are in danger from human activities
Behind the collapse in numbers is an increase in industrial agriculture, large-scale cattle ranching, logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, dam building and road construction.
The illegal trade in bushmeat – killing apes and monkeys for their flesh – is also decimating the animals, as is changing climates and diseases spread from humans to apes.
Growing trees to produce palm oil – used in many popular foods – is a particular threat to primates in Indonesia, as is mining for gold and sapphires in Madagascar.
With many species living in rainforests, the cutting down of millions of acres of forest to supply the increasing demand for timber or to clear land for agriculture is destroying their habitat and making populations more fragmented.
In addition to disease and the threat of leopard attacks, the conservationists say the gorillas are often the target of poachers.
The WCS team has been monitoring Kingo and Mekome for decades, and are hopeful about the baby gorilla’s future.
Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered, despite being the most common gorilla subspecies.
The researchers with the Mondika Gorilla Project continue to follow the lives of individual gorillas and their offspring in effort to better understand how to protect and conserve the species.