Western gorilla

Most diverse species of a gorilla; inhabits midwest Africa

Wade Tregaskis

These great social apes live semi-terrestrial life and sleep in a nest every night they build.

They are robust, with a brownish-black color coat and no tail. Their brow ridge is more prominent, with a squashed tomato-shaped nose, flared nostrils, and proportionally smaller ears. They live in stable, cohesive groups with one dominant male “silverback” and many adult females with their offspring. These peaceful and shy creatures will show off their strength by chest-beating the intruder male/threat (not territorial).

The juicy stemmed plants, fruits, berries, leaves, and bark make their favorite diet. The major threats they face today are poaching, infectious disease, habitat degradation/destruction, and climate change.

We have only rough estimates of their population size, as they inhabit some of Eastern Africa’s remote and dense rainforests.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
1652
Official estimate
CR
2018
Cameroon
CR
2018
Awaiting further studies
Central Af. Rep.
CR
2018
Lack of data
Congo-Brazzaville
125,000
Official estimate
CR
2007
Largest population
Equatorial Guinea
2,000
Official estimate
CR
2018
2020
Gabon
35,000
Official estimate
CR
2018
Nigeria
CR
2018
Lack of data

Recent updates

Feb 2022: The government of Cameroon announced plans to create a new national park to protect Western lowland gorillas and other wildlife. The park will cover an area of 6,600 km² (660,000 hectares) and be located in the southwest of the country.

Dec 2021: The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) released a report warning that Western gorillas could be extinct in the wild within the next 25 years if urgent action is not taken to protect them. The report called for increased protection of gorilla habitat and a crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade.

Did you know?

  • The Ebola virus caused an estimated decline of 45% for 20 years (1992 – 2011) in protected areas. Major concerns that it might be depleting the population to the point of no-return.
  • Males are larger and weigh almost double of females.
  • More than 60 percent of the population has gone in over the last two decades.
  • 80% of the Gorillas live outside the protected areas.
  • Infants have a distinct white patch on their rump that helps in identification by moms.
  • Gorilla kids have massive demand in the pet market. For this illegal trade, around 10-20 adult gorillas are killed to kidnap every single baby. Gorillas are very protective of their young and defend them at any cost.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No