Lowland Gorillas : Gorillas are a species of primates that are primarily ground-dwelling herbivores and largely reside in the equatorial rainforests of Africa. These forests can be found in the countries of Cameron, D.R. Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, D.R. Congo and Nigeria among a few other lucky ones. Gorillas are a worldwide sensation and see numerous visitors traveling to these destinations especially East Africa to experience a personal gorilla adventure.

All the gorillas in the world are grouped under the genus “Gorilla” and grouped into two species. These two are the western gorilla and eastern gorilla which are further divided into four subspecies. The subspecies are four with each species having two to its name.

The western gorilla species have the western lowland gorillas and Congo River gorillas while the eastern gorilla has mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas.

Although people pay more attention to the mountain gorillas and leave out an interesting subspecies of lowland gorillas. There are typically two subspecies of lowland gorillas that inhabit the tropical forests and swamp forests of equatorial Africa. All gorillas no matter the subspecies have a DNA that greatly resembles that of humans. This ranges from approximately 95 to 99 percent based on the sample examined.

Lowland gorillas live in lowland forests and swamps usually on sea level or slightly lower unlike the cousins – mountain gorillas that live several meters above sea level. The eastern lowland gorillas are only found in the forests of Democratic Republic of Congo while the western lowland gorillas are found in the Central and West African countries of Congo, Cameroon, and Central African Republic among others around the equator line.

lowland gorilla families

Eastern lowland gorillas.

These subspecies are recorded as the biggest of all the four subspecies. Characterized by shorter muzzle, lighter fur compared to the mountain gorilla on a burly body, and relatively gigantic hands to match its size. Classified as Gorilla beringei graueri this subspecies of gorillas roam the lowland sub montane forests and montane bamboo forests of D.R. Congo. These forests range from roughly 600 to 3,308 meters in elevation.

Research shows that the number of eastern lowland gorillas has greatly shrunk by more than 50 percent from 1990 when this subspecies numbered around 17,000 eastern lowland gorillas.

Western lowland gorillas.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as the most widespread and highest number among the four gorilla subspecies. The precise number of western lowland gorillas is uncertain because these subspecies dwell in the most remote and thickest rainforests of central Africa.

Western lowland gorillas are the tiniest of all subspecies even though it’s still a terrific size. They are differentiated from other subspecies by a smaller body build, bigger skulls, smaller ears with brownish-grey coats, and reddish chests.

Despite their enormous gorilla size, both western and eastern lowland gorillas’ diet depends largely on fruits and other plant matter like the remaining gorilla subspecies. In addition, the 2 subspecies are listed as critically endangered as a result of poaching, illegal bush meat and disease. The gorilla population has seriously declined that research estimates they need roughly 75 years to recover and no longer be critically endangered.

This would be achieved if all risks to the gorilla well-being are removed like picking and illegal bush meat which cannot be true. Years of political chaos in the Democratic Republic of Congo have greatly affected the gorilla population. This has slowed conservation efforts and research on subspecies like the lowland gorillas which in turn has led to low data collected and an uncertain number of these great apes.

During the years of political instability, gorillas were exposed to poaching even in gazetted zones like Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Rebels had taken control of the home of biggest population of eastern lowland gorillas which gave poachers a chance to exploit and poach them for different illegal purposes. However, thanks to the WWF and other institutions, the park is now regaining power over the area and hopefully, it will speed up the recovery process of these awesome ape species.

Plan a trip to central Africa and find out the difference between these two subspecies and their other two close relatives on a personal gorilla adventure in the heart of Africa.

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