There is an instant empathy when you gaze into a gorilla’s eyes because you find a kindred spirit looking back at you. Scientific studies changed the world’s perception of them from terrifying, enormous creatures to gentle beings, our closest relatives, and vegan icons.
Eastern gorillas inhabit medium- to high-elevation forests in the E-DRC, NW-Uganda, and SW-Rwanda. Their diets vary with elevations and availability; wild celery, nettles, bedstraw, and roots are favored.
Two recognized subspecies-
- Grauer’s gorillas (formerly Eastern lowland): occurs in lowland tropical rainforest habitat with ~5% annual ongoing population decline.
- Mountain gorillas:>1,063 restricted to two populations (Virunga Massif and Bwindi-Sarambwe) only 25 km apart, isolated by dense settlements.
Feb 2022: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda reported successfully tracking a group of eastern gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. The collaring will help researchers understand the gorillas’ movements and behavior and aid conservation efforts.
Dec 2021: The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that it had completed a census of eastern gorillas in Virunga National Park. The census counted a total of 604 gorillas, which is a 25% increase from the last count in 2010. The increase was attributed to successful conservation efforts in the park.
Nov 2021: According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the DRC, they had successfully reintroduced a group of rescued eastern gorillas into the wild. The gorillas had been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and rehabilitated before being released into the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) center.
Did you know?
- In 1994-95 there were an estimated 16,900 Grauer’s gorillas; today, they are less than 4000.
- Genetic diversity across the gorilla range is important. Low diversity may arise in small populations through increased inbreeding and, by reducing reproductive fitness, may lead to decreased chances of persistence of a given population.
- Although formerly known as the Eastern lowland gorilla, it can be found from approximately 600 to 2,900 m (0.4 – 1.8 miles) asl, overlapping considerably with the altitudinal range of Mountain gorillas.
- Gorillas are highly social. The Silverback named ‘Digit’, who fought and died to save his 13 family members from poachers and their dogs, was one of the main gorillas being studied.
- Poachers generally snatch gorilla infants for pet trade/international markets; in such encounters, the family members and adult gorillas (this number may be more than 10 individuals) get killed in defending the baby.
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Troops
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No