Western lowland gorilla
Western lowland gorilla
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
IUCN Red List classification
The western lowland gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the western gorilla species. The gorillas at London Zoo, like most gorillas in zoos, are the western lowland subspecies. ZSL works for the conservation of the western lowland gorilla through a number of field projects. In Lopé National Park in Gabon, at Mikongo Conservation Centre, ZSL is developing an ecotourism project and conducting research into gorilla ecology and gorilla and human health. In Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, which are western lowland gorilla range countries, ZSL works more generally for the conservation of forest ecosystems, which are critical to the survival of the western lowland gorilla.
- Gorillas are the largest living primate and are quadrupedal (using four legs) herbivores (eats plants). Typically gorillas live in social groups (of 5-20 individuals) that are comprised of females, immature males, and one mature, silverback, male. The western species consumes more fruit than the eastern species and, reflecting its need to climb trees to access fruit, is generally smaller and lighter. The western lowland gorilla subspecies differs from the cross river subspecies in skull and tooth dimensions.
- Western lowland gorillas are found in the primary and secondary tropical rainforests of Angola (Cabinda); Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon. Current evidence suggests that the majority of the population reside in Gabon and Congo.
- Western lowland gorilla populations have been successfully habituated (acclimatised to human presence) in Gabon and the Central African Republic but typically this subspecies difficult to habituate. Because the western lowland gorilla is more arboreal, ranges in habitats that are sparser in undergrowth vegetation, and roams over a much bigger area than its Eastern ‘cousins’, tracking, and therefore habituating, this subspecies is problematic.
- Like all gorilla subspecies, the western lowland gorilla is threatened by illegal hunting, disease, and habitat loss and degradation. This subspecies is particularly threatened by the spread of the Ebola virus.
- Surveys conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 2006 and 2007 identified approximately 125,000 previously unreported gorillas have been living in the Republic of the Congo.
The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) have declared 2009 the Year of the Gorilla. Find out more at the Year of the Gorilla website.