Types Of Gorillas

Types Of Gorillas

 

Types Of Gorillas – There are two main species of gorillas found across the globe: the Western gorillas and the Eastern gorillas. But before delving into their distinctions, let’s briefly overview what a gorilla is.

Understanding Gorillas

Gorillas, often described as gentle giants, inhabit the equatorial regions of the African continent. They display a range of human-like emotions and behaviors such as sadness and laughter. What sets them apart is their genetic similarity to humans; they share approximately 98% of their DNA with humans, placing them closer to us than any other living primate except for chimpanzees.

Characteristics

Gorillas, the largest of the great apes, possess robust bodies characterized by broad chests and powerful shoulders. Their faces are heavily covered in hair, featuring small eyes, while their limbs resemble those of humans. They typically live in groups known as families, consisting of 5 to 15 members, though some families may include as many as 40 individuals. Each family is led by a dominant adult male, known as a “silverback,” who plays a central role in the group’s social dynamics, particularly through his relationships with the females. Female gorillas reach sexual maturity around 7 or 8 years of age, while males may take longer. They typically give birth to a single baby, although twins have been reported, with an interval of 4 to 6 years between births.

Here Are The Six Subtypes Of Gorillas.

types-of-gorillas

  1. The Eastern Gorilla Species. The Eastern gorilla species consists of two sub-species: the mountain gorillas, estimated to be just over 1,063 according to a 2018 survey conducted by the Greater Virunga Trans-boundary Collaboration and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiques of Uganda, and the eastern lowland gorillas, which have experienced a nearly 50% decline in numbers from the 17,000 population in the mid-90s, according to scientists’ estimates.

  2. The Cross River Gorilla. Mainly inhabiting the rainforests of Nigeria and Cameroon, Cross River gorillas can reach heights of 4 to 5.5 feet and weigh up to 450 lbs. Their habitat covers about 3,000 square miles, but human activities such as agriculture, livestock rearing, and timber harvesting have severely reduced their population, leading to their classification as critically endangered. Efforts by governments, WWF, and other conservation organizations aim to protect their habitat and raise awareness among local communities about the importance of conservation.

  3. The Mountain Gorillas. This subspecies thrives in densely forested areas at high altitudes between 8,000 and 13,000 feet, primarily in three countries: Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National Park, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas can reach heights of 4 to 5.5 feet and weigh up to 480 lbs. Their thick fur helps them adapt to cooler climates. Despite being critically endangered, their population has increased to over 1,000 individuals, thanks to conservation efforts by Uganda, Rwanda, and the D.R. Congo governments.

  4. The Western Gorilla Species. The Western gorilla species comprises two sub-species: the Cross River gorillas, estimated between 200 and 300 individuals, and the Western lowland gorillas, with a population of over 100,000 individuals, making them the most widespread and populous gorilla sub-species worldwide.

  5. The Eastern Lowland Gorilla. Found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these gorillas inhabit the lower areas of the tropical rainforests in the eastern part of the country. Human encroachment has reduced their habitat size from 8,000 to 5,500 square miles. They have squat bodies, short muzzles, and large hands, with heights ranging from 4 to 5.5 feet and an average weight of 450 lbs.

  6. The Western Lowland Gorilla. This sub-species, found in Congo and Cameroon, has the largest population. They inhabit various habitats, including rainforests and swamps, and are characterized by smaller sizes, wider skulls, smaller ears, brown-grey coats, and reddish-brown chests. Their exact population is unknown due to their secretive nature, but they are considered endangered due to poaching and habitat loss.

Both Eastern and Western gorillas share genetic similarities and social structures, but they differ in geographic distribution, habitat preferences, population sizes, and behaviors.

types-of-gorillas

Eastern and Western gorillas share many similarities due to their common ancestry and evolutionary history, but they also exhibit distinct differences in various aspects of their behavior, habitat, and population.

Similarities:

  1. Genetic Similarity: Both Eastern and Western gorillas are genetically closely related, sharing approximately 98% of their DNA with humans.
  2. Social Structure: Both species live in cohesive social groups led by a dominant adult male, known as a “silverback,” with females and their offspring forming the core of the group.
  3. Physical Characteristics: They have similar physical features such as robust bodies, broad chests, and powerful shoulders. Their facial structures, including small eyes and large hands, are also comparable.

Differences:

  1. Geographic Distribution: Eastern gorillas primarily inhabit the eastern part of the African continent, while Western gorillas are found in the western regions.
  2. Habitat Preference: Eastern gorillas, particularly mountain gorillas, inhabit high-altitude forests, whereas Western gorillas are more commonly found in lowland rainforests and swampy areas.
  3. Population Size and Status: Western gorillas, especially the Western lowland gorillas, have larger populations compared to Eastern gorillas. Eastern gorillas, particularly the mountain gorillas, are more endangered, with smaller population sizes and facing greater threats such as habitat loss and poaching.
  4. Behavioral Differences: Eastern gorillas, particularly mountain gorillas, are known to exhibit different behaviors in response to their specific habitats and environmental pressures compared to Western gorillas.

Despite these differences, both Eastern and Western gorillas play crucial roles in their respective ecosystems and face similar conservation challenges due to human activities impacting their habitats.

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