Village heads of Okiro and Ofambe in Obudu local government areas of Cross River State have confirmed that a male gorilla now saunters about in their communities.
Speaking to Daily Trust, Chief Julius Ochui of Ofambe village and Chief Augustine Bitte of Okiro village said they had cautioned their subjects against attacking the animal since it was not violent.
They said they first spotted the animal last month going about its business in parts of the villages adjacent to thick forests.
“We have tolerated the animal because it is not attacking our people,” Chief Bitte said.
Dr. Inaoyom Imong of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Calabar said they were aware of the animal. “A large male gorilla was seen on the edge of Okiro and Ofambe villages 10 kms from the edge of the forest. Normally he would have been immediately killed but enlightened chiefs rule these two villages. His presence has been tolerated by both communities, at least for now,”
Imong said, adding that the animal was probably looking for a wife and would soon return to its habitat.
“As long as the gorilla is left alone it will likely find its way back to the forest,” he said.
Andrew Dunn, the country director of WCS in Nigeria, described the development as very good because in the past the animal would have been killed, thereby further depleting its low number.