Eastern Lowland Gorillas (Grauer’s Gorilla) Facts
The largest of the four gorilla subspecies is the eastern lowland gorilla, also referred to as Grauer’s gorilla. It differs from other gorillas by having a short muzzle, huge hands, and a stocky build. Like other gorilla subspecies, eastern lowland gorillas primarily eat fruit and other herbaceous materials despite their size.
Mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have both suffered as a result of years of civil unrest. In the eastern DRC’s lowland tropical rainforests, the eastern lowland gorilla makes its home. Its range was 8,100 square miles, or nearly the size of the state of Massachusetts, fifty years ago, but it is now only about 4,600 square miles. Currently, this subspecies may only occupy 13% of its original range. In the middle of the 1990s, there were close to 17,000 eastern lowland gorillas, but biologists believe that since then, the population has decreased by more than 50%. Since there has been violence in the area, it has been impossible to count the animals accurately.
The gorillas have been at risk of poaching throughout the instability, including in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which is home to the biggest population of eastern lowland gorillas that are protected. The park was overrun by rebels and poachers, and unauthorized mines were planted. However, park staff is taking back control of the land with assistance from WWF and other groups.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Facts
- Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest primates in the world.
- They are also known as Grauer’s gorillas after the scientist who discovered them.
- They are one of the most intelligent species of primates.
- They are the second most endangered subspecies of gorillas.
- A group of Eastern lowland gorillas is called a troop, and they are led by a large adult male known as a silverback gorilla.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Scientific Name
In honor of the Austrian scientist Rudolph Grauer who made their discovery in the early 1900s, eastern lowland gorillas are also referred to as Grauer’s gorillas. Gorilla Berengei Graueri, the second half of this subspecies’ scientific name, is named after Grauer. Their scientific name, Berengei, which means “Kivu highlands,” translates to “Grauer’s gorilla of the Kivu highlands.” They are regarded as primates and belong to the phylum Chordata. All vertebrates are classified as chordates, which are members of the Chordata phylum.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Appearance
The largest species of ape on the planet, gorillas are enormous. The species weighs between 450 and 500 pounds, with males often being bigger than females. The Eastern lowland gorillas are therefore little lighter than a vending machine. They can grow to a height of 5 to 6 feet. They have strong jaws and teeth, and huge heads compared to the rest of their bodies. They have a thick coat of dark fur, with the exception of their cheeks and hands, just like other gorillas. They like to stand on their knuckles while moving about.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Behavior
The Eastern Lowland Gorilla is no exception to the rule that gorillas are gregarious creatures. Gorillas live in close-knit family groups known as troops or bands. Together, these troops move, eat, and rear their young. A silverback, a huge male gorilla, is in charge of the troops. They may also include a few subordinate male gorillas in addition to two or three female gorillas and their babies. Although the soldiers are often small, scientists have found groupings of up to 30 people. Two silverback leaders in a group are uncommon.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Habitat
The Democratic Republic of the Congo‘s eastern region is home to this kind of gorilla (DRC). They flourish in the lowlands and jungles of the tropics. In recent years, their range has severely shrunk. Due to habitat fragmentation, gorilla populations are also much more scarce. They formerly called a region the size of Massachusetts—about 8,100 square miles—home. They currently occupy about 4,600 square miles. Eastern lowland gorilla habitats are covered by numerous national parks, including Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Maiko National Park. A few wildlife preserves are also devoted to protecting gorilla habitats.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Diet
Eastern lowland gorillas eat both plants and insects, making them omnivores. However, they also eat berries, leaves, and nuts in addition to fruits. The Eastern lowland gorilla favors termites and ants above other insects. These gorillas occasionally hunt for tiny rodents or lizards. In search of food, they have been known to traverse enormous distances.
They can chew fibrous and difficult plants because of their strong jaws. Additionally, they hardly ever directly drink water because most of the water they take in comes from the plants they eat. Gorillas in adulthood require roughly 18kg, or 40lbs, of food per day.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Predators and Threats
Few predators pose a serious threat to an adult gorilla. Adult Eastern lowland gorillas are only in danger from larger creatures like leopards and crocodiles.
The biggest threat to this animal is unquestionably humans. This species has suffered because of habitat degradation brought on by mining and civil upheaval in the DRC. They are also a target of poaching, even in national parks designed to keep them safe. To hunt gorillas, rebels and poachers visit these regions. Although groups like the World Wildlife Fund have stepped in to assist the park in regaining control of the area, conservation efforts are made challenging by the region’s ongoing civil strife. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the eastern lowland gorilla is an endangered species.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
When they are mature enough, over half of all male gorillas will leave their birth group between the ages of 15 and 20 when they attain sexual maturity. Until they build a harem of females, they move alone or occasionally with other male gorillas. The male silverback Eastern lowland gorilla regularly mates with the females in the group and is the only male allowed to do so, similar to other gorilla species. In order to prevent the female members from leaving, they develop close ties with them. Unless they are supplanted by a rival male, silverback males typically remain with the same group of females for their whole lives. Male gorillas frequently engage in deadly battles to control the harem. Lowland gorilla species from the east and west cannot reproduce.
Baby gorillas are young animals. The gestation time for females is roughly 8.5 months. For the first three years of their lives, infants will sleep in the same nest as their mother, and they will remain there until they achieve sexual maturity. Sometimes the group will be led by the male silverback’s sons later in life. Infant mortality rates among young gorillas are exceptionally high, and females frequently only give birth to one baby at a time. When they are 9 weeks old, babies can crawl independently; at 35 weeks, they can walk. Eastern lowland gorillas can live for 30 to 40 years in the wild. Gorillas in captivity can live for up to 60 years.
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