According to Carl Linnaeus’s zoological research; gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and humans belong to the group of primates. For the gorillas, there are two species. Are you wondering or confused about the different gorilla species that exist in the World? Gorillas are categorized into two species that include the Western gorillas and the Eastern gorillas, whereby the western lowland gorillas and the Cross River gorillas are subspecies of the western gorillas while the eastern lowland gorillas and the mountain gorillas are categorized under the eastern gorillas.

These two species are further subdivided into 4 sub-species ie mountain gorillas (Gorilla, gorilla, beringei) and the Eastern Lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla graueri) that belong to the Eastern Gorilla Specie as well as the Western Lowland gorillas (Gorillas gorilla gorilla) and the Cross River Gorillas that belong to the Western Gorilla.


There are two known species of gorillas;

  • Eastern Gorilla
  • Western Gorilla

Classification of the Gorillas

At the first time gorillas were discovered, they were classified as one species but as time went they were categorized into two species and later the two species got two sub species of gorillas each meaning they are four kinds of gorillas. These gorillas were categorized by the location of their natural habitats and their physical traits. The gorillas normally lead their lives in a group which is called a gorilla family or troop and these gorillas maintain a strong bond amongst the group members and the group is led by a dominant alpha male commonly known as “the silver back”

Gorilla species classification

Eastern Gorilla Subspecies:

The Eastern Gorilla includes two subspecies: the Eastern Lowland Gorilla (found in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and the Mountain Gorilla (found in the Virunga Mountains).

Western Gorilla Subspecies:

The Western Gorilla includes two subspecies: the Western Lowland Gorilla (found in central Africa) and the Cross River Gorilla (found in the border region between Nigeria and Cameroon).

Understanding these facts helps raise awareness about the importance of gorilla conservation and the need to protect their natural habitats.

There are two classified species of gorillas that is eastern gorillas and western gorillas. These gorillas were first categorized by the location they live in Africa as the eastern gorillas live in the central eastern part of Africa while the western gorillas live in the central western part of Africa.Later there were taxonomical differences that were identified with these gorillas.

These gorillas are further divided into four subspecies. Each species is further divided into two subspecies of gorillas. The Eastern gorilla has the Eastern lowland gorilla (Grauer’s gorillas) and the mountain gorillas and the western gorillas have Cross river gorillas and the Western lowland gorillas.

All these subspecies live in different habitats of different physical conditions, differ in population and also have different outrageous physical characteristics.

Western Lowland Gorillas

The lowlands gorilla has two subspecies:  the Western Gorilla and the Cross River Gorilla.

The larger eastern lowland gorilla lives in the moist DR Congo (former Zaire) within the rain forests of Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park. The mountain gorilla live in the Virunga near the DR Congo, Rwanda – Uganda border as well as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The smaller western version lives in the tropical jungles of the Congo Basin.  The western lowland male has distinctive almost white saddle on its back while the eastern version has short, black fur.  For the most part, they live in societies, or families, of about five to ten gorillas.  Also related is the very rare mountain gorilla that inhabits the mountain forests of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo bordering Rwanda.


Gorillas are fascinating creatures, and here are some interesting facts about them:


Gorillas are divided into two species: the Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and the Western Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla). Each species has two subspecies.


Gorillas are native to the forests of central and east Africa. They inhabit montane, primary, and secondary forests.

Social Structure:

Gorillas live in groups called troops or bands, led by a dominant silverback male. The group also includes females, juveniles, and infants.

Silverback Gorilla:

The silverback is an adult male gorilla with silver-grey hair on its back, which develops as the gorilla matures. Silverbacks are usually the dominant leaders of their groups.


Gorillas are primarily herbivores. They consume a variety of plant materials, including leaves, shoots, fruits, and bark. Occasionally, they may eat insects.


Gorillas communicate using a combination of vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions. Common vocalizations include hooting, grunting, and chest-beating.

Tool Use:

Gorillas are known to use tools, such as sticks, to aid in tasks like getting termites out of mounds or testing the depth of water.


Gorillas are highly intelligent animals. They demonstrate problem-solving abilities, memory, and the capacity to learn sign language when raised in captivity.

Endangered Status:

Gorillas are listed as endangered, with their populations facing threats from habitat loss, poaching, and diseases such as Ebola.

Gestation and Offspring:

The gestation period for gorillas is around 8.5 months. Female gorillas give birth to a single offspring at a time, and the infant is dependent on its mother for several years.


In the wild, gorillas can live to be around 35 to 40 years old. In captivity, they may live longer.

DNA Similarity:

Gorillas share about 98% of their DNA with humans, making them one of our closest living relatives.

Differences Between Species

The differences between the two races of gorilla are quite subtle. They can be differentiated using their color and the sizes.

The western gorilla, as stated before, is the smallest version between the two.  The western gorilla has small jaws and teeth set in a broad face.  The eastern lowland gorilla has short, black body hair and a narrow face, and is the largest version.  Gorillas stand about 5.8 feet tall.  They have short broad hands and feet that are no longer adapt to swinging beneath branches.  The longer arm mean that the mammal has a sloping backline.  The gorilla’s big toe is opposable, much like a thumb.  The sole of the gorilla’s feet lie flat on the ground.  The males weigh around 300 kilos, while the females weigh half that about 150 kilograms.

How many gorillas are there in the world?

The 3 gorilla types are vulnerable in nature. The Western Lowland gorillas are 50000 in West Central Africa. The Eastern Lowland gorillas that live in the Eastern Congolese rain forests, they have declined. Around the 1960’s, they ranged from 5000 to 15000. Currently, there are only 2500 and in DRC they are 250 lowland gorillas. Mountain gorillas are the most critically endangered species out of all the 3 subspecies, currently, there fewer than 1000 in the entire world.



Conservation initiatives, including ecotourism activities like gorilla trekking, have played a crucial role in the protection and preservation of gorilla populations.