Introduction

The critically endangered eastern lowland gorilla, or Grauer’s gorilla, is a subspecies of the eastern gorilla (the other being its cousin the mountain gorilla), which resides exclusively in eastern Congo’s tropical rainforests. Its habitat is continually threatened, meaning the world’s largest primate is being pushed into an ever shrinking range.

Eastern Lowland Gorilla Facts

    01
    Habitat

    It now occupies just 13% of its historical range and it’s estimated that the population has decreased by more than 50% since the mid-90s.

    The lowland gorillas of Virunga live in a small, isolated forest on Mount Tshiaberimu, just 77 square km in size, situated northwest of Lake Edward.

  • 01
    Habitat

    Eastern lowland gorillas typically reside in lowland rainforests, but can also live in dense montane forests as long as the climate is still tropical. It is also possible for them to inhabit swampland if the right vegetation grows there. As a consequence of armed conflict and illegal resource exploitation, the subspecies’ range is rapidly decreasing.

  • 02
    Behavior

    Eastern lowland gorillas, like other subspecies of gorilla, eat up to 18kg of vegetation a day. Since their diet is rich in moisture, they rarely need to drink any water.

    They supplement their diets with very small servings of insects, such as ants and termites.

  • 02
    Behavior

    While mothers care directly for infants, who take 8.5 months to develop in the womb, the powerful silverback, the group’s dominant male, offers protection from external threats. He also takes time to play with his offspring, aside from leading the group of up to 30 individuals to nesting and feeding sites.

  • 03
    Physical Characteristics

    The dominant male within a troop is known as silverback, because of the swathe of silver hair which blankets its rear when he reaches sexual maturity at around twelve years of age. The fur of females and non-mature males is dark and shorter than that of mountain gorillas.

    They have long arms and their thumbs extend further than their fingers.

  • 03
    Physical Characteristics

    Of the four subspecies of gorilla, the eastern lowland is physically the largest. They have stocky bodies, large hands and bulky skulls compared to the rest of the body. On average, males grow to be 359 pounds (163kg) and 5,5 feet tall (1.69m), with females weighing in at 178 pounds (81kg) and reaching 5,2 feet (1.6m).

Resource Exploitation and Poverty Threaten Gorillas

The lowland gorillas near Mount Tshiabirimu remain in an extremely perilous state and are on the verge of extinction. At the end of 2018, the monitoring of these gorillas had to be suspended due to high levels of insecurity in the Mount Tshiabirimu area. In the middle of 2019, special patrols were initiated which confirmed that the six individual gorillas being monitored were in good health.