About Gorillas

Gorillas comprise the eponymous genus Gorilla, the largest extant genus of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. The genus is divided into two species and either four or five subspecies. The DNA of gorillas is highly similar to that of a human, from 95–99% depending on what is counted, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the bonobo and common chimpanzee.

Classification of Gorillas

Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei)

Two subspecies exists:

Species: Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Scientific name: Gorilla beringei graueri
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Population: Less than 3000
Conservation status: Endangered
Physical characteristics: Largest of gorilla sub species, longer arms than the mountain gorilla and shorter hair and teeth.

Species: Mountain Gorilla
Scientific name: Gorilla beringei beringei
Population: Less than 720
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
Physical characteristics: Large skull, wide face and angular nostrils. Larger body and longer hair than eastern lowland gorilla.

Western Gorilla (Gorilla Gorilla)

Two subspecies exists:

Species: Western Lowland Gorilla
Scientific name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Population: 100,000
Conservation status: Critically Endangered
Physical characteristics: Males silverback colouring extends onto the thighs, also have redder hair on their heads.

Species: Cross River Gorilla
Scientific name: Gorilla gorilla diehli
Population: Approximately 300
Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
Physical characteristics: Smaller skull and teeth than other gorilla as well as shorter hands and feet.

 Interesting Facts About Gorillas

  • The Latin name for mountain gorillas is Gorilla Gorilla Berengei
  • The DNA of gorillas is 98%–99% identical to that of a human
  • The name Gorilla is derived from the Greek word Gorillai meaning hairy women.
  • Today there remains only 10 countries (all within the western, central and Eastern Africa region) with naturally occurring gorilla populations.
  • The DNA of gorillas is 98%–99% identical to that of a human, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the two chimpanzee species.
  • Females usually conceive at around 8 to 9 years with their first baby being born before age 10. Pregnancy lasts 8 and-a-half months.
  • Gorillas follow a very strict pecking order, with the dominant silverback enjoying key privileges and first rights to all that is desirable in a gorilla’s world. For example, if a blackback or adult female chances upon an ant mound and begins to feast on the ants, should a silverback come by, without question, the lesser gorilla will allow the silverback first feeding rights.
  • Gorillas live in tight knit social units – families, usually headed by a dominant silverback who determines where the group will range, eat, and sleep among other things.
  • A silverback is a mature adult male gorilla
  • A silverback can weigh up to 120Kgs (260lbs).
  • On average an adult male gorilla eats up to 25 Kgs (about 54lbs) of food a day.
  • The average weight of an adult female gorilla is 90Kgs (198lbs).
  • Every evening, each gorilla makes a bed of leaves to sleep on for the night.