Eastern lowland gorilla

Eastern lowland gorilla

Eastern lowland gorilla, Grauer's gorilla


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Gorilla beringei graueri

The eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri ) or Grauer's gorilla is a Critically Endangered subspecies of eastern gorilla endemic to the mountainous forests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Important populations of this gorilla live in the Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks and their adjacent forests, the Tayna Gorilla Reserve, the Usala forest and on the Itombwe Massif.

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It is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies. It has a jet black coat like the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei ), although the hair is shorter on the head and body. The male's coat, like that of other gorillas, greys as the animal matures, resulting in the designation "silverback".

There are far fewer eastern lowland gorillas compared to western lowland gorillas.According to a 2004 report there were only about 5,000 eastern lowland gorillas in the wild, down to fewer than 3,800 in 2016, compared to over 100,000 western lowland gorillas. Outside their native range, only one female eastern lowland gorilla lives in captivity, at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium.

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Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest subspecies of gorilla and the largest living primates. Males weigh between 150 and 209 kilograms (331 and 461 lb) based on four males, females of 76 kilograms (168 lb) although this had a small sample size. Males stand between 1.69 to 1.96 metres (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 5 in), while females reach 1.6 metres (5.2 ft). An older weight calculated based on eight wild adult males is 169 kg.



Biogeographical realms

Gorillas spend long hours feeding on plant matter every day. Gorillas are stable apes as they stay together for months and years at a time, much like the structure of a family. Groups of eastern lowland gorillas are usually larger than those of western gorillas.

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The eastern lowland gorilla has the widest altitudinal range of any of the gorilla subspecies, being found in mountainous, transitional and lowland tropical forests. One of the most studied eastern lowland gorilla population lives in the highlands of Kahuzi-Biega, where habitats vary between dense primary forests to moderately moist woodland, to Cyperus swamp and peat bog.

Gorillas do not eat banana fruits, but they may destroy banana trees to eat the nutritious pith. The eastern lowland gorilla shows a preference for regenerating vegetation associated with abandoned villages and fields. Farmers who have come in contact with gorillas in their plantations have killed the gorilla and obtained a double benefit, protecting their crop and using the meat of the gorilla to sell at the market.

Eastern lowland gorilla has a varied plants diet including fruits, leaves, stems and bark as well as small insects such as ants and termites. Although they occasionally eat ants, insects form only a minor part of their diet. In comparison to western lowland gorillas, found in low altitude tropical forests, eastern lowland gorillas travel much less and increase their consumption of herbaceous vegetation.

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Eastern lowland gorilla habitat map


Eastern lowland gorilla habitat map
Eastern lowland gorilla

Habits and Lifestyle

Eastern lowland gorillas are highly sociable and very peaceful, living in groups of two to over 30. A group usually consists of one silverback, several females and their offspring. Silverbacks are strong and each group has one dominant leader (see alpha male). These males protect their group from danger. Young silverback males will slowly begin to leave their natal group when they reach maturity, and will then attempt to attract females to form their own group.

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Relatively little is known about the social behaviour, history and ecology of eastern lowland gorillas, partly because of civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, some aspects of social behaviour have been studied. For example, gorillas form harems which may include two full-grown males. One third of gorilla groups in East Africa have two grown males in their group.

Most primates are bonded together by the relationship between females, a pattern also seen in many human families. Once they reach maturity, both females and males usually leave the group. Females usually join another group or a lone silverback adult male, whereas males may stay together temporarily, until they attract females and establish their own groups. It is commonly believed that the structure of the gorilla group is to prevent predation.

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Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Mating Habits

A female will give birth to a single mother after a gestation period of about 8½ months. They breastfeed for about three years. The baby can crawl at around nine weeks old and can walk at about 35 weeks old. Infant gorillas normally stay with their mother for three to four years and mature at around 8 years old (females) and 12 years old (males).


Population threats

Threats to the eastern lowland gorilla's survival include poaching, civil unrest, and the destruction of gorilla habitat through logging, mining, and agriculture.


1. Eastern lowland gorilla Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_lowland_gorilla
2. Eastern lowland gorilla on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/39995/102328430

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