Western Lowland Gorilla Facts, Lifespan, Diet, Habitat, Size
Western Lowland Gorilla Facts, Lifespan, Diet, Habitat, Size – The Western Lowland Gorilla is the largest and most widely distributed of the three different types of gorillas. There are also sizable populations in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, as well as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Equatorial Guinea. Because they live in some of Africa’s most inaccessible and impenetrable rainforests, the precise population size of western lowland gorillas is unknown. There are still sizable populations, and they can be found in places like the Republic of Congo’s distant marshy forests and savannas.
Western lowland gorillas are smaller than other subspecies of gorillas and have a brown-grey coat and an auburn breast, among other distinguishing features. Their skulls are bigger and they have higher forehead ridges, but their ears are smaller. The western lowland gorilla population is declining despite their large size. More than 60% of gorillas have been killed off in the previous 20–25 years due to poaching and sickness. Scientists estimate that the western lowland gorilla population would take about 75 years to recover if all risks were eliminated.
16 Interesting Facts You Should Know About Western Lowland Gorilla
What is the Western Lowland Gorilla?
The Cross River gorilla, Grauer’s gorilla, and mountain gorilla are the other three gorilla subspecies, with the Western lowland gorilla being the smallest. The black-brown hair of western lowland gorillas is shorter, their arms are longer, and their brow ridge is more pronounced. The hair on the back of newborns is white, and some older gorillas have silver highlights. Western lowland gorillas, like their eastern counterparts, are in risk of extinction due to deforestation.
COMMON NAME: Western lowland gorillas
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gorilla gorilla gorilla
GROUP NAME: Troop
AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 35 years
SIZE: Standing height, four to six feet
WEIGHT: 150 to 400 pounds
SIZE RELATIVE TO A 6-FT MAN
Western Lowland Gorilla Habitat and Diet
Including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and the Republic of the Congo, the western lowland gorilla occupies a range of more than 270,000 square miles spanning central and West Africa. The dense tropical forests where these gorillas make their home provide an abundance of plant-based foods that make up their vegetarian diet. Roots, stems, fruits, wild celery, tree bark, and pulp make up the bulk of their diet.
Western Lowland Gorillas Behavior
Gorillas have been observed in groups of up to 30 individuals on the ground, despite their ability to climb trees. The dominant adult male of a group is often referred to as the “silverback” because of the silvery mane that covers his normally dark fur. Additional young males, females, and kids round up the army.
The leader coordinates the group’s daily routine, which includes feeding, nesting in leaves, and exploring the territory. Gorillas have the ability to stand up, but they spend most of their time on all fours, moving with the help of their knuckles and the soles of their feet.
When confronted by another male, a group leader will stand tall, throw objects, charge aggressively, pound his massive chest, and bark out tremendous hoots or unleash a roar to show his strength. Gorillas are not aggressive unless they feel threatened, despite their intimidating appearance and behavior.
Western Lowland Gorillas Communication
Western lowland gorillas are mostly solitary animals, yet they produce at least 22 distinct hoots, barks, and screams that all convey important information. Captive gorillas have proven remarkably smart; they’ve picked very basic human sign language.
Western Lowland Gorillas Reproduction
After nearly nine months of pregnancy, female gorillas only give birth to a single infant. Newborns can do little more than cling to their mothers’ fur and sleep for the first few months of their lives, weighing only about four pounds. From around four months of age until about two or three years of age, these babies travel on their mothers’ backs. Three to six year old gorillas spend the most of their waking hours engaging in playful activities including climbing trees, chasing one another, and dangling from branches.
Threats to survival
Despite being one of the more numerous gorilla subspecies, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified western lowland gorillas as critically endangered due to a variety of threats they face.
Loss of forestland poses a double danger to gorillas, as it eliminates their natural habitat and makes room for those who shoot them for bushmeat. Poaching threatens about 80% of the western lowland gorilla population, which lives in unprotected areas.
The habitat of the western lowland gorilla is diminishing due to farming, grazing, and growing human settlements. Warming temperatures dry up the region, increasing the risk of wildfires and forest retreat, which poses a further threat to their habitat due to climate change.
The same is true for gorilla populations, which have been hit hard by sickness. A third of western lowland gorillas may have been lost to the Ebola virus in the early 2000s, according to experts.
National and international laws protect western lowland gorillas, but enforcement has been lax in the past. That’s why environmentalists are working to change things by, among other things, increasing the penalty for poaching and enhancing land-use planning to better safeguard the gorilla’s habitat from destruction.
In 2018, scientists doing a distribution study on gorillas released some encouraging findings: A total of 361,900 western lowland gorillas were discovered in their research, which is a third more than was previously thought. Great apes coordinator for the IUCN Liz Williamson said at the time to the Guardian, “Our study has revealed that it is not too late to secure a future for gorillas.”