Species of Gorillas in Africa
The question is, are there different types/species of gorillas in Africa? Yes, gorillas are the largest and biggest great apes and the closest relatives to humans after chimpanzees and bonobos. Scientifically gorillas share 98% of their genes with man.
Through much research, it is approved that gorillas’ behaviours are more like humans such as living in the families like humans, sadness and laughter. The only place where to find wild gorillas is Africa’s rain tropical forests and highlands of Central Africa and the mountains of East Africa.
Gorillas are the most powerful primates in the world with large muscular arms, thick chests with black/brownish hair, gorillas body is covered with hair except for the face, hands and feet, which looks like a human. Gorillas can walk with all four legs but it can also stand on two feet, especially when feeding on a tree, fighting and displaying dominance.
Full-grown adult male gorillas are called silverbacks because of the silver/grey hairs on their back, full grown silverback gorilla is bigger/larger than full-grown female gorilla and can weigh between 155 to 220 kilograms in the wild.
Gorillas live in families led by a dominant silverback, gorilla families contain between 5 to 30 individual gorillas, and gorillas live up to 30 to 35 years in the wild, gorilla families may include younger males, juveniles, females and babies, like in humans the stability of a gorilla family will 100% depend on the good bond/relationship between the dominant silverback and the females.
Scientifically chimpanzees are more intelligent apes but gorillas are calmer, more peaceful, and wiser. Gorilla families are far more stable and family members are very loyal to each other compared to chimpanzee’s troops/communities, chimpanzees are known to be much more aggressive and the dominant male has a lot of work to do in controlling the troops/communities members.
Gorillas are vegetarian; they mainly feed on leaves, fruits and shoots but will catch certain ants/insects. Gorillas move a few kilometers in search of food every day, gorillas are not territorial and this is probably because most families live a life of plenty in dense rain forests, gorilla families may share the same territory but will generally avoid each other to avoid fighting.
Female gorillas give birth every four to five years and the gestation period is 9 months like humans, female gorillas start having sex at the age of about 10 while males do the same at about 15 years. One of the reasons that make gorillas an endangered species is the low reproductive rate; the female often gives birth to a single infant baby but also twins are common mostly in mountain gorillas.
The biggest threat to gorillas is humans who destroy their habitats through deforestation, illegal logging and poaching, and accidental deaths. Gorillas can easily be hunted down for their meat because they do not flee away like chimpanzees, dominant silverback gorilla will defend their young ones and the whole family to death because most animal traffickers and poachers may need to kill the entire group in order to get hold of a gorilla infant/babies.
There are two main species/types of gorillas in the world: The Western gorilla and the Eastern gorilla but these two species contain two other subspecies. For example, the Eastern gorilla species consists of the Mountain gorilla which is the most famous among all gorillas, and the Eastern Lowland gorilla while the Western gorilla species consists of the Cross River gorilla and the Western Lowland gorilla.
The two types/species of gorilla both live in the tropical rainforest of Africa and subtropical regions of Africa. What makes the differences between these two types-species of gorillas is the size of the noise and their calls/sound when communicating and colour, also Eastern gorilla is large than the Western gorilla but what is the most important is that both species/types are endangered because of the destruction of their natural habitats in Africa.
The subspecies of Cross River gorillas can be found in some rain forests of Cameroon and Nigeria, the population of Cross-River Gorillas is about 90 to 150 individuals, cross-River gorilla subspecies are about 4 to 5 1/2 feet when standing on two feet and their weight is about 200 kilograms, in the region where these Cross-River Gorillas live in both countries is overpopulated by humans who are clearing its habitants for timber and fields for agriculture which makes them critically endangered. However, both countries and WWF are putting a lot of effort to create a protected area for these critically endangered Cross-River Gorillas in both countries.
The mountain gorillas live in rainforests high in the mountains of East Africa at elevations of about 8,000 to 13,000 feet. Mountain gorillas have thicker fur, in fact, it has more fur if compared to other gorilla species and other great apes, the fur helps mountain gorillas to survive in a habitat up in the mountain where temperatures keep dropping mostly in the night and during the rainy season.
Mountain gorilla lives in the Virunga Mountains, which is shared between three countries, which is the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, other mountain gorilla population lives in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park located in Western Uganda. Like the Cross River gorilla, Mountain gorillas are about 4 to 5 1/2 feet when standing and weigh between 90 to 150 Kilograms. Mountain gorillas moved from critically endangered to endangered in the 2019 mountain gorilla census when the mountain gorilla population increased from 880 individuals to 1063 individuals.
Western Lowland Gorilla:
Western Lowland gorillas are found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea as well as in large areas in Gabon and the Republic of Congo, the western lowland gorilla is the only gorilla subspecies that is kept/found in zoos, and the Western Lowland gorillas are the most abundant among the other gorilla subspecies. The total number of Western Lowland gorillas is not well known because there are some which still scattered deep in the different rainforests in Africa, Western Lowland gorillas are also about 4 to 5 1/2 feet tall and weigh 90 to 150 kilograms.
Due to the encroachment of its habitants for timber, fields for agriculture and poaching, the Western Lowland gorillas’ population has decreased by more than 60% over the last 20-25 years. Western Lowland gorillas are also considered critically endangered as well, one of the ways that distinguish Western lowland gorillas from other gorilla subspecies is by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and their auburn chests. Western lowland gorillas also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears compared to gorilla subspecies.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla:
Eastern Lowland gorillas also known as Grauer’s gorillas, they are found in Kahuzi-Biega National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eastern Lowland gorilla are the biggest among the four gorilla subspecies. What distinguished them from other gorilla subspecies is their stocky body, large hands and short muzzle.
In the last 50 years, the Eastern Lowland gorilla has decreased from 8,1000 square miles to about 5,650 square miles, currently, Eastern Lowland gorillas only occupy about 12.5% of their original habitat which has made its population declined by more than 50% since the 1990s.
Like the other gorilla subspecies, Eastern Lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered, like other gorilla subspecies Eastern Lowland gorillas are about 4 to 5 1/2 feet tall and weigh 90 to 150 Kilograms.
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