The western lowland gorillas are among the few most fascinating creatures you shouldn’t miss to explore while on gorilla safari in Africa. They are the only sub-species that thrive in zoos apart from the Amahoro-the female Eastern lowland gorilla at Antwerp zoo and mountain gorillas that can only be spotted in the wild. They feature among the two sub-species of western gorillas and the other is the Cross-River gorilla. Compared to the cross-river gorillas, the western lowland gorillas come in large numbers.
Scientifically, the western lowland gorillas are called Gorilla gorilla gorilla and they are the sub-species of the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and they fall under family Hominidae. The western lowland gorillas thrive within the tropical rain forested areas with altitudinal range of about 1000 to 2000 meters or more, primary and secondary forests, lowland swamps of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa in Camera, Central African Republic, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea. They thrive at elevation altitude of about 1300 meters.
Compared to other gorilla subspecies, the western lowland gorillas come in small sizes. The males are bigger than females and the weight of a mature male ranges from 136 to 227 kilograms and can stand up to 1.6 meters. The weight of female western lowland gorillas can range from 68 to 90 kilograms and can stretch up to 1.4 meters.
The western lowland gorillas feature wider skull than the mountain gorillas. At younger age, gorillas feature a small white rump patch till they reach to 4 years. An adult male is known as silverback given the saddle of white hair that grows across its back. Like other primates, the western lowland gorillas feature rare fingerprints and nose prints.
The western lowland gorillas are not territorial. They thrive in groups of about 5 to 10 and this is slightly smaller than other gorilla species which thrive in families of about 30 members. The western lowland gorillas’ home can range from 8 to 45sq.kms. Each gorilla group or family is headed by a mature adult male gorilla also known as silverback whose responsibilities are entirely to find where the rest of his members can forage and their safety.
The western lowland gorillas have a very low reproduction rate. Females are considered sexually mature at the age of about 8 to 9 and they do not reproduce when caring for the young. Just like humans, female gorillas have gestation period of about 9 months and they give birth to a single infant. Females take care of young ones till they reach 5 years and a new born gorilla can weigh approximately 2 kilograms.
The western lowland gorillas have a fairly long-life expectancy. They can live up to about 35 to 40 years in the natural habitat and in captivity, they can live up to 50 years.
The western lowland gorillas are herbivores, they depend on vegetation-leaves, roots, fruits, shoots, tree bark. At times, they also feed on insects. An adult male gorilla can feed on up to 18 kilograms of food per day. However, leopards are natural predators and humans at times hunt them for many reasons.
The western lowland gorillas remain fewer than 300000 in the world however, their population keeps on decreasing due to threats including spread of human infectious diseases, poaching, habitat loss and many more.
Like other gorilla species, the western lowland gorillas are intelligent and they use tools to extract ants and termites. They use signs to communicate to each other during times of food or when their family is attacked. They can also hold objects like leaves, fruits in one hand just like humans.