Gorilla safaris in Africa are a life time experiences that anyone should include in his or her itinerary. There are 2 distinct gorilla species which are often put into one. There are various differences although the mountain gorillas are bigger with longer hair and shorter arms than the lowland gorillas.
The Lowland gorillas can be sighted in the trees and like dense forested, flatter habitats than the rare mountain gorillas. As their names may suggest, these 2 gorilla subspecies have distinct habitats. The Lowland gorillas have their refuge in the thick rain forests on the Atlantic coast of Africa. They have relatively small area which they still live in the wild including the untapped wilderness in DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Cameroon.
The rare mountain gorillas are situated at higher altitudes and much farther inland (4300 meters), thriving in the wilderness of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of their indigenous habitats are the rocky slopes of once active volcanoes though they are popular to venture into the high, alpine areas of the Mountain ranges where they can face freezing temperatures.
Mountain gorillas are the biggest of all the apes with their males ranging from 135 to 220 kilograms and standing between 1.2 to 1.8 meters tall. The Lowland gorillas tend to be smaller than the mountain gorillas weighing between 65 to 185 kilograms. The females are usually smaller than males, weighing about half.
Both subspecies stay in families known as troops. Big troops live as many as 30 members but the usual make up their groups is a bit smaller. A gorilla group features a dominant male silverback, some females and their infants. Adult male children split off from their biological groups unit to live independently at the age of about 15, males start gathering their own harem of females and begin their own group. Between leaving their parents and gathering females of their own, young Lowland males usually make up their own groups but attached to a parent family.
Dominant mature males of all these subspecies tend to show the gray hair on their backs, which occurs at around 13 years a few years before they start to breed. The Lowland gorillas have shorter hair than the endangered mountain gorillas and are not as darkly. While the mountain gorillas range in color from bluish-black to dark, brownish gray, Lowland gorillas have lighter color more brown or even gray coat. Adult male lowland gorillas often lose the gray fur on their back and hips.
There are also some variations in the physical appearances between the 2 apes though it can be difficult to differentiate them at a glance. However, all the two have very long arms but for mountain gorillas, they have shorter arms than the Lowland gorilla. They also have big nose and jaw and bigger teeth.
When irritated, the male mountain gorillas emit a strong odor from glands under their arms. For the lowland species, studies have so far indicated that scent communication does not play as big a role in their culture.
Where as both subspecies can climb trees and are popular to make nests in trees of branches and leaves, Lowland apes are more likely to be sighted moving through the trees. They are also more to be sighted in the trees looking for food; both subspecies are herbivores and the lowland gorillas are commonly sighted high up in the trees stripping bark and leaves.
Both subspecies are considered endangered. The Lowland gorilla is highly hunted for their skins and there is a high demand for their meat. And because of the location of the home territories of the rare mountain gorillas, they are often affected by war outbreaks in addition to habitat loss due to human land uses.
Mountain gorillas are one of the 2 subspecies of the Eastern gorillas. There are 2 lowland gorillas-the western lowland and eastern gorillas. The western lowland gorilla is scientifically known as Gorilla gorilla gorilla; while mountain gorillas are scientifically Gorilla beringei beringei.
In conclusion, gorilla safaris are the most sought after experiences in Africa. The lowland gorillas can be trekked in most of the countries unlike the mountain gorillas that are only found in three destinations of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.