Gorillas are divided into two species. These include the Western Gorilla, which is subdivided into western lowland gorillas and cross river gorillas and eastern gorilla subdivided into mountain gorilla and eastern lowland gorillas. Gorillas share so much DNA with humans making them one of our closest relatives. They are the largest apes in the world and are distributed within the African continent. Gorilla species have no much difference except their habitats and a few behaviors.
Gorillas are herbivores. They consume up to 18 kilograms of vegetation in a day, eating about 100 species of plants. The movement of a troop is commanded by the dominating silverback. This alpha male dictates all the group’s activities. Most gorilla species live in groups of 5-30 individuals or more as numbers keep changing due to death, power struggles, and a couple of other reasons. See some of the species of western gorillas below.
Species of western gorillas
Western Lowland Gorillas
Western Lowland Gorillas inhabit the areas of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Angola. They live in swampy forests, tropical lowland forests and riparian forests. Western lowland gorillas are a subspecies of The western gorilla and the smallest species of all gorilla subspecies. These gorillas are the most researched and studied species of gorillas. A male western lowland gorilla weighs 140-170 kilograms and reaches a height of 1.5 to 1.8 meters tall. Males in captivity can weigh beyond 270 kilograms.
Western lowland gorillas have the largest population. They have characteristics of a noticeable brow bridge, broad skull, large head, and opposable thumbs. Western lowland gorillas walk using knuckles and develop a patch of grey hair behind their backs when they mature.
Cross River Gorillas
Cross River Gorillas are another subspecies of the western gorilla that was recognized as a new species by Paul Matschie in 1904. This species of gorillas reside in Takamanda national park in Cameroon and Cross River National Park in Nigeria.
Takamanda national park and Kagwene gorilla sanctuary in Cameroon were established in 2008 to protect cross river gorillas. The sanctuary covers an area of about 19 kilometers squared between Nijikwa and Mbulu forests. The cross river gorilla is the most critically endangered species of the gorilla subspecies with less than 250 mature individuals left in the wild according to a survey in 2014. Cross River Gorillas build their nests depending on the environmental changes.
Cross River Gorillas live in smaller groups of 5-7 individuals compared to other species of gorillas. They too have one silverback gorillas that dominate their activities and claim the only mating rights with the females in the group. They are herbivores and feed on leaves, stems, shoot, stems, bark fruits and sometimes ants, termites, and insects.
Female cross river gorillas reach sexual maturity at an early age of 9-10 years before male gorillas. Females can have an offspring after every 4-6 years. Their fertility rate is low and only have 1-2 fertile days in a month. Once a baby gorilla is born, the mother breastfeeds it up to the age of 3-4 years.