Western lowland gorilla

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Western lowland gorilla
Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Western lowland gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla gorilla )

Superfamily : Human (Hominoidea)
Family : Apes (Hominidae)
Subfamily : Homininae
Genre : Gorillas ( gorilla )
Type : Western gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla )
Subspecies : Western lowland gorilla
Scientific name
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
( Savage & Wyman , 1847)
Skull of a male

The western lowland gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla gorilla ) is one of two subspecies of western gorillas from the primate family of apes (Hominidae). It is by far the largest of all gorilla populations.


The western lowland gorillas differ in their physique and fur color from the gorilla populations living further east, which are now grouped together as the eastern gorilla . These animals are built a little smaller and more graceful, their chest is narrower, their legs a little longer and their face shorter. In contrast to the black eastern gorillas, their fur is more gray-brown in color, and a brown cap on the top of the head is noticeable. The gray color of older males (see silverback ) extends not only to the back, but also to the hips and thighs. Morphological investigations on museum specimens in 2001 came to the result that the animals of the Nigerian - Cameroon border region differ in details in their tooth and skull structure; today they are listed as cross-river gorillas as a separate subspecies.

Distribution area and habitat

The distribution area of ​​the western lowland gorillas extends from southern Cameroon and the west of the Central African Republic via Equatorial Guinea , Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the Angolan enclave Cabinda . The populations in the far west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are extinct. These animals are the most pronounced lowland inhabitants of all gorillas, they live in rainforests and wetlands.

Way of life

Pregnant western lowland gorilla in Hanover Zoo

Western lowland gorillas, like all gorillas, live together in groups, which usually consist of a male, several females and the common offspring. With four to eight animals, these groups are smaller than those of the eastern gorillas. Descriptions of group behavior are not uniform, sometimes there are short-term splits ("fission-fusion organization"), for example when looking for food. The territorial behavior is little developed, the ranges of the individual groups - which are bigger with 500 to 3200 hectares than other gorillas - overlap considerably.

Like all gorillas, they are diurnal, when they sleep they build leaf nests in the trees or on the ground, which are usually only used once.


The western lowland gorillas look for their food on the ground or in the trees, but in contrast to mountain gorillas , for example , the males also often climb trees. The daily forays are around 0.5 to 1.2 kilometers long. These animals are mainly herbivores that feed on leaves, herbs and fruits, with fruits playing a relatively large role in their diet. The extent to which they also consume insects and other small animals is controversial; but there have been observations that they break open termite mounds and consume the insects.

Western lowland gorillas and humans

Western lowland gorilla
Female western lowland gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla gorilla ) with her baby born that day

Western lowland gorillas are by far the most common gorillas, their total population is estimated at around 360,000 animals. This subspecies is also kept almost exclusively in zoological gardens. The largest wild populations are in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo , where there are also some protected areas. Nevertheless, the animals are threatened by the destruction of their habitat and hunting for their meat (see Bushmeat ). The IUCN lists the subspecies as " critically endangered ".


In the past, all gorilla populations were grouped together in a single species, today a distinction is made between two species, the western and the eastern gorilla . The western lowland gorilla is a subspecies of the western gorilla and is therefore more distantly related to the eastern lowland gorilla than it is to the mountain gorilla .



  • Thomas Geissmann: Comparative Primatology . Springer, Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-540-43645-6
  • Ronald M. Nowak: Walker's Mammals of the World . The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore 1999, ISBN 0-8018-5789-9 .

Individual evidence

  1. Fiona Maisels (Wildlife Conservation Society), Elizabeth A. Williamson (University of Stirling), Richard Bergl: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: Western Gorilla. April 1, 2016, accessed May 27, 2020 .

Web links

Commons : Gorilla gorilla gorilla  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files