Today’s focus will be on the Western Lowland Gorilla. The Western Lowland Gorilla is a critically endangered species of gorilla, meaning the population of these big apes is decreasing. In fact, over the last 25 years the population of the Western Lowland Gorilla has declined 60% due to poaching alone. Habitat loss and human disease (i.e. Ebola among others) also factor into the gorillas’ disappearance. The majority of Western Lowland Gorillas live in unprotected territory which makes them particularly susceptible to poaching.
The Western Lowland Gorilla is slightly smaller than other species of gorilla and unlike the mountain gorilla who sport a jet black coat, the Western Lowland Gorilla have a brownish-gray coat with a red or auburn chest. This combined with their smaller size make it easy to tell the difference between them and other types of gorillas. Mature males will develop a silver stretch of hair down their backs. Gorillas with this characteristic are known as “silverbacks”.
One of the things that make this gorilla so fascinating is that they share 98.3% of their DNA with humans. Also similarly to humans, the female Western Lowland Gorilla has a gestation period of nearly nine months and usually gives birth to a single infant.
Fully grown, the Western Lowland Gorilla weighs up to 440 pounds and can stand anywhere from 4 – 5 ½ (even sometimes 6) feet tall! They are located in Cameroon, the Central Africa Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. In the wild, they have an average lifespan of around 35 years of age, though some have been known to live a bit longer.
The Western Lowland Gorillas’ diet consists of roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, tree bark and pulp which is plentiful in the dense forests they call home. The forests are so dense in fact that it’s easy for the gorillas to hide out amongst the vegetation making it rather difficult to get an exact count of how many Western Lowland Gorillas remain.
There are many ways to help ensure the survival of these beautiful gorillas. You can start by helping to raise awareness by sharing this article, donating to one of the many wildlife organizations (I will list links below), or symbolically adopting a gorilla. With your help, we can save this incredible species from extinction.