Types of Gorillas

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

Types of Gorillas

Mountain 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, American primatologist made the extinction impossible that it even 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 gorillas 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 was 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 2kilograms 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.

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Eastern lowland gorillas

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 inhabit 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.

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Western lowland gorillas

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 smallest subspecies of gorillas with parts of their skins 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.

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Western gorillas

Western gorillas are divided into subspecies of cross river gorillas and western lowland gorillas. They are entirely herbivores, feeding on leaves, shoot, 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.

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Cross River gorillas

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 about 8-9 months and just like other gorillas, they are lead by an alpha silverback that plans for the group’s daily activities.

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Eastern gorillas

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 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 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.

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