Tap to inquire

Diverse Gorilla Species – An Overview of Different Types

There are many types of gorillas, and each gorilla species has its own unique traits. Gorillas are apparently the largest species of primates on Earth.

They display many human-like behaviors and share a lot of DNA with humans.

There are two species of gorillas in the world, and these include the Western Gorilla and Eastern Gorilla.

Two of its subspecies are highly recognized by scientists.

The western gorilla species is subdivided into western lowland gorillas and cross river gorillas, while the eastern gorilla is subdivided into eastern lowland gorilla and mountain gorilla.

Mountain gorillas

Types of Gorillas

Mountain gorillas were critically endangered, with less than 900 mountain gorillas left.

Their population surpassed 1000 in the last gorilla census.

Mountain gorillas almost became extinct in the 19th century, but the efforts of Dian Fossey, an American primatologist, made the extinction impossible, even though it led to her death in 1985.

She was killed in cold blood by poachers.

Mountain gorillas are only found in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo; in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park, respectively, and not anywhere else in the world.

Mgahinga, Volcanoes, and Virunga all share the Virunga Conservation Area, a perimeter where the 8 Virunga Mountains are found.

This is the common type of gorilla that tourists meet on their gorilla trekking tours.

Mountain gorillas are an endangered species of gorillas, also known as Gorilla Beringe Beringei.

The names Beringe were derived from Captain Robert Von Beringe Friedrich, who shot two animals in 1902, which were previously unknown but were mountain gorillas.

Mountain gorillas have longer, dense fur and thicker skin compared to eastern lowland gorillas; their habitats also differ.

Male Mountain gorillas develop silver fur on their thighs and backs. The hair on their backs is shorter.

The gestation period for mountain gorillas is 8-9 months.

Female mountain gorillas sexually mature at an early age but are only fertile for 1-2 days in a month, making their birth rate very low.

Just like human babies, gorilla babies weigh about 2 kilograms at birth and cling to their mother’s backs until 4 years while surviving solely on breast milk.

The dominating silverbacks dictate the day-to-day activities of a group and are in charge of its safety.

They always fight to protect their family members even at the expense of their lives.

Regarding feeding habits, mountain gorillas are herbivores but occasionally supplement their diet with insects, termites, and larvae.

Eastern lowland gorillas

3 Days Lowland Gorilla Trekking in Congo's Kahuzi-Biega National Park

The eastern lowland gorilla, also known as Gorilla Beringei Graueri, is the biggest of the gorilla species.

The scientific name was derived from an Austrian scientist called Rudolf Grauer, who first identified the species in the nineteenth century.

Eastern lowland gorillas can only be found at Kahuzi-Beiga National Park, Maiko National Park, Itombwe mountains region, and Tayna Gorilla Reserve.

This gorilla species mainly inhabits lowland and mountain tropical forests. Eastern lowland gorillas can survive in zoos, unlike mountain gorillas.

The dark fur coat of eastern lowland gorillas is shorter than for mountain gorillas.

They have a big skull compared to the rest of their body.

Eastern lowland gorilla males can weigh up to 250 kilograms.

Western lowland gorillas

4 Days Congo Lowland Gorilla Trekking & Lwiro Chimpanzee Visit

The western lowland gorillas are found in Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.

Western lowland gorillas can weigh up to 270 kilograms or even more while in zoos.

Western lowland gorillas are the smallest subspecies of gorillas with parts of their skin covered with greyish-brown fur.

The females also acquire silver hair on their backs and upper thighs as they mature.

Western lowland gorillas are also common in zoos as they can survive in captivity.

Western lowland gorillas also live in groups dominated by an adult male “silverback” that leads the group and solely owns all rights to decision making.

Female western lowland gorillas have only 1-3 fertile days in a month and can produce at the age of 9-10 years.

Western gorillas

4 Days Congo Lowland Gorillas & Community Tour in Bukavu

Western gorillas are divided into subspecies of cross river gorillas and western lowland gorillas.

They are entirely herbivores, feeding on leaves, shoots, vegetation, buds, stems, fruits, and occasionally eat termites, ants, worms, grubs, and so forth.

This species of gorillas are found in Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Gabon, and Congo, dwelling in swampy forests, lowland tropical forests, primary and secondary forests.

Male western gorillas can weigh 157 kilograms, and females can weigh 80 kilograms.

They have strong muscles in the jaw area. Their muzzle is short and can move up to 4 kilometers in a day looking for food.

Cross River gorillas

3 Days Lowland Gorillas & Snake's Park Tour Visit in Bukavu

The Cross River gorilla is also known as Gorilla Gorilla Dielhi.

It was considered a new species in 1904, but little was known about them until further research was carried out in the 1980s.

Males can grow up to 1.75 meters tall and weigh up to 200 kilograms, while females grow up to 1.40 meters tall and weigh up to 100 kilograms.

The Cross River gorilla is one of the most endangered of the gorilla species, with an estimation of only 200 individuals left in the wild.

The gestation period for females is about 8-9 months, and just like other gorillas, they are led by an alpha silverback that plans for the group’s daily activities.

Eastern gorillas

Assessing the Difficulty of Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, Congo, and Uganda

Eastern gorillas are also known as gorilla Beringei.

They have two subspecies of mountain gorilla and eastern lowland gorilla.

The eastern lowland gorilla can weigh about 140-200 kilograms for males, while females can reach 90-100 kilograms.

Eastern gorillas have a layer of silver hair on the back when they mature, hence the name silverbacks.

This species can be found in Uganda, Rwanda, and the western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, inhabiting the Virunga ranges.

Eastern gorillas are diurnal and spend about 30 percent of the day feeding and 40 percent relaxing.

They build nests on top of trees or the ground where they sleep. New nests are built daily.

Despite the males being polygamous, only the dominating male can mate with the females within the group.

Any juvenile that wants to gain mating rights has to challenge the dominating silverback to victory or flee his natal group and start up their own.

Gorilla FAQs & Information

  1. Why Can’t You Look or Make Eye Contact with a Gorilla?
  2. Why Silverback Gorillas Fight
  3. Importance of Mountain Gorillas
  4. What to do when a gorilla charges on you
  5. What is The Largest Species of Gorillas?
  6. What is a Group of Gorillas Called?
  7. What is the Mountain Gorillas Role in The Ecosystem?
  8. The Mountain Gorilla Defense Mechanism
  9. How to Provoke/Annoy a Gorilla
  10. How Gorillas Greet Each Other
  11. Do All Gorillas Become Silverbacks?
  12. Do Gorillas like Humans
  13. Do gorillas Eat of Kill Their Babies?
  14. Do Gorillas Eat Humans?
  15. Can you Tame a Gorilla
  16. Can you Own a Gorilla?
  17. Do Mountain Gorillas live in Families & Groups?
  18. How to Protect & Save Mountain Gorillas
  19. Why Gorillas Are So Strong
  20. How Many Humans Does it Take to Beat a Gorilla?
  21. How do you call a Baby Gorilla?
  22. How Do Gorillas Sleep?
  23. How Mountain Gorillas Communicate
  24. The Gorilla Life Cycle
  25. Do Gorillas drink water?
  26. Are Gorillas friendly & gentle to humans?
  27. Why do Apes, Gorillas beat their chest & sound hollow?
  28. Gorilla Threats: Why Mountain Gorillas were endangered?
  29. Why were Mountain Gorillas going extinct?
  30. What is a Silverback Gorilla?
  31. Mountain Gorilla Diet
  32. Mountain Gorilla Size, Average Height & Weight Measurements
  33. Natural Mountain Gorilla Predators
  34. Mountain Gorilla Population
  35. Lifespan of Mountain Gorillas
  36. Mountain Gorilla Natural Habitat
  37. Mountain Gorilla Conservation Efforts
  38. Mountain Gorilla Behavior
  39. How to Survive a Gorilla Attack on Humans
  40. Are Gorillas Dangerous to the People
  41. Why are Gorillas Poached in Africa
  42. How Gorillas Adapt to Rain-forest Environment
  43. Interesting Facts about Mountain Gorillas in Africa
  44. Traits, Qualities & Characteristics of Mountain Gorillas
  45. How Strong is a Silverback Gorilla?
  46. Best Place to See Mountain Gorillas in Africa
  47. Uganda Gorilla Families
  48. Rwanda Gorilla Families
  49. Congo Gorilla Families

Featured in:

How we work

To offer a more rewarding way to travel, we do stuff the right way; right from the planning process.

1
We pay attention

We will spend time and pay attention to your expectations, then propose an experience that you might like.

2
We complement

Next we will discuss our selected options, point out the best safaris for you and make awesome recommendations.

3
We hold your booking

We will tentatively hold your booking and make reservations while we talk through the safari details or make changes.

Speak to an expert to start planning your African safari holiday...

Give a call to one of our specialists or arrange a video meeting/session for awesome ideas and safari advice.

+256 787 23 0575
Eddie Safari Guide
Ronnie Safari Guide
×