Western lowland gorillas Facts

Name

Gorilla gorilla gorilla

Number remaining

Fewer than 150,000

Where they live

Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic

Characteristics

Western lowland gorillas are smaller than their eastern cousins – although adult males can still weigh up to 180kg (28st 4lb). They often have much redder or greyer fur, adult males have striking chestnut fur on their head and neck, and the characteristic fur on their back extends further down their thighs giving them a more full-bodied silver look.

 

Western lowland gorillas live in family groups led by a dominant silverback, but unlike eastern gorillas, the group will often split up during the day, coming back together at night to nest. Like all gorillas, they are largely herbivorous, but western gorillas are particularly fond of fruit, which makes up most of their diet when available. They also eat leaves, shoots, bark, ants and other insects.

Status

Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List)

Population

Widespread throughout west and central Africa

Main threats

Habitat loss, hunting for bushmeat, disease (especially the Ebola virus), logging, mining

Additional info

Until recently, conservationists were less concerned about the long-term future of the western lowland gorilla as their vast forest home created a natural boundary between them and their human neighbours. But as the logging industry engulfs the forest, bringing roads, hunters and disease, the western lowland gorillas’ long-term future has been thrown into uncertainty.

 

Unlike their eastern cousins, western gorillas are hunted for bushmeat, and in recent years the spread of the Ebola virus has devastated the gorilla population.