Akpan Etukudo Asare
Villagers living close to the famous Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in Buanchor, Boki LGA, of Cross River State have reported how many gorillas and chimpanzees do stray into their communities.
Over the weekend, a female chimpanzee reportedly followed a young man, Mr John Ekpang from the forest of Konyiachi, a farming area of Bitiah Irruan down home to Bitiah village in Boki LGA.
The humanlike animal was suspected to have strayed from the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary where assorted animals of the sort are kept and nurtured.
Ekpang, a farmer and forest guide, said since it was not violent but friendly, he played along with it and it followed him to the village centre where it attracted the entire community.
Seeing how playful and friendly, the animal was the villagers did not attack it. Ekpang said: “She has been friendly, peaceful, playful. It is however strange that the chimpanzee is so at home with people it has never seen and interacted with. Wonders of nature. A chimapnzee and human beings relating as mates”.
Ekpang said, they will not kill it but will feed it and either await arrival of experts or encourage it to return to the Afi sanctuary.
Authorities of Pandrillus Drill Monkey sanctuary, owners of Afi mountains wildlife sanctuary in Boki LGA confirmed that one chimpanzee had actually sauntered out of the sanctuary and roamed into the human settlements.
The official who preferred anonymity said a big tree fell and destroyed part of the sanctuary which enabled as many as 28 animals including the chimpanzees to escape. ” We have since recovered all but the chimpanzee back into the sanctuary “, she said.
She said the community returned the animal in good health and they happily appreciated them.
Country director of World Conservative Society, an organisation responsible for conservation of rare animals, Mr Andrew Dunn said the development was welcoming as community no longer kill such rare species of animals, adding that the chim was fascinated with the human faces she saw.