Western Gorilla

This species of gorillas is the most populous and they dominantly live in the western part of central Africa. These gorillas are generally lighter colored than eastern gorillas. Two subspecies of these gorillas exist that is the western lowland gorillas and the cross river gorillas.

Subspecies of the Western Gorilla

  • Western Lowland Gorilla
  • Cross River Gorilla

Western Lowland Gorillas

The Western lowland gorillas-scientifically known as the Gorilla gorilla gorilla inhabit the primary and secondary montane forests and the lowland swamps of several Central African countries at about 1600 meters above sea level that include Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo (which makes this country a home to three sub-species of gorillas with mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas also found in the country), Gabon, Angola, The Republic of Congo also known as Congo Brazzaville (harbors the highest number of these gorilla species), Central African Republic, and Cameroon.

Unlike other gorilla species that are rare in zoos, the western lowland gorillas can survive and live comfortably in the zoos and there are several of them in zoos across the World for example in Japan. If you would like to see them in the wild it is possible by booking a gorilla safari in Odzala National Park of the Republic of Congo.

Western lowland gorillas were listed in IUCN Red List of Endangered species and their population is currently estimated at only 100,000 individuals in the whole world. They can easily be identified and distinguished from the other gorilla sub-species by their smaller and lighter weight. Western lowland gorillas have shorter hair, wider skulls; their ears are smaller on their heads. Just like the other sub-species of gorillas, the western lowland gorillas are also closely related to mankind with over 98.2% of their DNA shared with the latter.

In terms of color, these exceptional gorilla species have brownish-grey hairs coated with red or auburn crest. There is also a significant difference between sexes whereby the females are half the size of the male gorillas. Adult male gorillas have a strip of whitish hair along their thighs and change to a dark body color.

These exceptional primates also live in families but interestingly, they maintain the smallest family size compared to the other gorilla sub-species with the average family size ranging from 4-8 members. Western lowland gorillas are majorly herbivores with their diet comprising of mainly pith, pulp, shoots, wild celery, tree barks, plant leaves as well as fruits which are the main component of their menu but ate consumed based on the seasonal availability.  Fruits are abundant and ripen in the rainy season from July to August and these primates tend to consume more fruits compared to foliage but when fruits become scarce in the dry season, gorillas consume mainly leaves, tree barks, pith, shoots and also complement their menu with weaver ants and termites. So far, 100 fruit species that been confirmed to be delicious and important in their diet. An adult gorilla consumes up to 18 kilograms/40 pounds of food per day and can climb to 15 meters high to get food.

However, the western lowland gorillas are being threatened by hunting for their bush meat, to be used as pets and some of their body parts are assumed to have magical powers and source of medicine. Diseases also affect their population as well as habitat loss and degradation.

Conclusively, the western lowland gorillas are also important primates found in Central African countries of DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and are worth visiting to explore about their exceptional and interesting behaviors.