eastern lowland gorillas

About Eastern Lowland Gorillas

The Eastern lowland Gorilla, with its stocky body, huge hands and short muzzle, is held in high regard by the World and considered a national treasure in the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is found. This sub-specie of the Eastern gorilla also has a special significance to the Gorilla safaris in Africa because of its huge body size and endemism to only one country.

This species of gorilla is scientifically known as Gorilla beringei graueri and together with the mountain gorillas belong to the species of Eastern gorillas.

Size and physical description.

Eastern lowland Gorillas are the largest of the four gorilla sub-species (Mountain gorillas, Cross River gorillas, western lowland gorillas and Eastern lowland gorillas), are also the largest species of primates on Earth and stand out from the rest for their heavily-built bodies, huge hands and short snouts.

A fully-grown male Eastern lowland gorilla can weigh between 150 and 209 kilograms as well as boast of a standing height of 1.69 to 1.96 meters tall while the females can weigh between 80 and 100 kilograms then reach a height of 1.6 meters.

A newborn Eastern lowland gorilla is about 2 kilograms (4.5 pounds) with pale-gray skin that is lightly covered with hair, brought into life after eight and a half months pregnancy. These gorillas are calm and extremely peaceful despite their huge sizes but can become aggressive when they feel threatened.

Habitats and distribution.

Eastern lowland Gorillas occupy the think rainforests of Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly in the eastern region where they subsist entirely on fruits and other herbaceous materials (just like their counterparts). Significant populations of these gorillas can be seen or trekked from Kahuzi-Biega national park and Maiko National Park as well as other close by rainforests.

In the 1990s, population of these endangered primates in the wild stood at over 17,000 individuals but due to severe human activity over the years, their range has drastically reduced and population tremendously declined. For many years a Census has not been conducted because of continuous political instability in the Eastern part of the country although they are currently estimated to be about 5000 individuals in the wild.

Diet and feeding habitats of Eastern lowland gorillas.

These Great Apes can consume around 30 kilograms of food comprising of fruits, roots, seeds, leaves, bamboo shoots, stems, caterpillars and small insects like termites and ants every day and rarely drink water. They use their large and strong hands to break vegetation, harvest and peel fruits.

They eat parts of about 104 species of flora and spend the largest time of their day feeding. Eastern lowland gorillas surprisingly don’t eat banana fruits but can destroy the entire banana plant to just consume the succulent pith.

 Behavior.

Eastern Lowland Gorillas are social beings that live in tight-knit families/groups, from which they give birth and raise their young ones, move and forage. These families are typical comprised of 5-30 individuals headed by huge male gorillas known as “silverbacks” but also present are several females and their young ones, few subordinate silverbacks, juveniles, black backs and infants.

The silverback is characterized by a distinctive saddle of silver-grey hair on his back that comes with maturity (more than 12 years old) and is in-charge of protecting members and making vital decisions in the family. These include where the family spends overnight, feed as well as mating with the females.

Trekking Eastern lowland Gorillas.

These extraordinarily beautiful gorillas are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo within two main places – Maiko and Kahuzi-Biega National Parks although the latter is the most popular for treks. Gorilla permits for trekking these huge gorillas cost only $400 per person per trek for foreign non-residents and $200 for foreign students. Treks introduce visitors to Chimanuka, Bonne Annee and Pungwe families.

Best time to see the Eastern lowland Gorillas.

Eastern lowland Gorillas can be seen throughout the year much as the recommended time to trek them is during the dry months of December to February and June to August when forest trails are drier, chances of experiencing rains are low and Park roads are not muddy. However, also remember that Kahuzi-Biega National Park is dominated by a thick Afro-montane rainforest hence rains can be experienced anytime of the year.

It is advisable to always carry a rain jacket, wear sturdy hiking boots, carry a backpack, walking stick, and wear long sleeved shirts and long pants to protect your legs and arms when coming for a gorilla trekking safari in D.R. Congo.