My cousin, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla, the biggest and strongest of all gorillas, lives in the tropical rainforests of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain Gorilla, also an Eastern, is the most endangered amongst us. He lives in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo in volcanic mountain forests 1½ to 2½ miles (2.4 KM to 4 KM) high! He has thick fur to with stand chill temperatures.
Western Lowland Gorilla is the most numerous and smallest gorilla, lives in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon. It has brown-grey fur, auburn chest, broad skull, thick brow-ridge and small ears.
Cross River Gorilla, also a Western, is timid, difficult to spot, resides in rain forests of Cameroon and Nigeria and has only small differences with Western Lowland gorillas.
We gorillas eat plants. And, oh boy! Do we love to eat! Adult males eat-40 pounds (18 KG) of roots, stalks, shoots, wild celery & fruits daily. Our powerful jaws can chew tough stems & large stomachs can hold all the bulky foods we eat.
Western Lowland Gorillas are partly non-vegetarian – as they also eat termites, larvae & ants. and Mountain Gorillas also eat insects and worms. Many Gorilla have black teeth as our diet is high in Tannin that stain our teeth.
We are strong, but do you know we are afraid of small Chameleons and Caterpillars?
We are also scared of water and cross streams only on fallen logs. And, we don‛t like rain too. We have a very powerful arm-punch that can crack human skulls!
Male Eastern Lowland Gorillas are 6.4 feet tall & weigh 485 pounds; females are 5¼ feet tall & weigh 176 pounds. Mountain Gorilla males are 6 feet tall and weigh 463 pounds & females are 4.9 feet tall and weigh 216 pounds. Western Lowland Gorilla males are 5.6 feet tall, weigh 373 pounds & females are 4.9 feet tall & weigh 159 pounds.
Male Crossland Gorillas are 5 ½ feet tall, weigh 440 pounds & females are 4.6 feet tall and weigh 220 pounds. Comparatively, human male average height is 5.6 feet and female 5.2 feet. The average human weight is 136 pounds.
We share many human traits. But we are wild and can be aggressive if disturbed or threatened. We express anger by loudly pounding, jumping on or slapping the ground; if we are doing this, it‛s best you leave us alone.
Leopards that run at 60 KM/hour and Crocodiles that do 35 KM/hour are our predators. Our speed is only 40 KM/hour, so we are no match for Leopards. But as Crocs are on par with us, we have a fair chance to escape from them.
Adult males beat their chest to attract females or frighten rivals. It can be heard over a kilometer (0.62 mile) away. We spend much of our time foraging and resting. Troops of Gorillas travel hundreds of meters between many feeding bouts of the day.
Troops have home ranges of 2–40 sq KM (0.77–16 sq miles) and several troops may share the same part of the forest.
An hour before sunset we build nests on the ground or trees depending on safety & security and go to bed by nightfall.
We sleep 12 hours a night, but sometimes up to 17 hours! Mountain Gorillas construct new nests every evening.
Male Gorillas are not fully grown at 8 & get bigger for 4 more years. They have black hair & are called blackbacks. Male Gorillas fully mature at 14 years. Hair on the back & stomach of the most dominant male becomes silver-grey by then and he becomes a Silverback.
Females mature around seven or eight years but don‛t begin to have babies until they‛re 10 years old & give birth to only 1 child at a time, once in 4 to 6 years. We bear only 3 or 4 children in a lifetime & nurture them for many years.
In the wild, we live for over 40 years.
We are mostly on the ground but can climb trees when necessary. Gorillas, Humans, Chimps & Orangutans belong to the genus of Great Apes, and none of us have tails.
We are intelligent, laugh, grieve, develop strong family bond, feel jealous, and make & use tools- all characteristics that you think of as human!
For 2 centuries, our numbers dwindled because of human poaching, hunting, wars & civil conflicts in our habitats, Ebola virus, capture by zoos & research institutions – and
we became almost extinct. Recent efforts by organizations and governments, creation of new sanctuaries and gorilla forests are thankfully beginning to make a change.
Individuals like you can also help in these efforts and if all of it gain speed quickly, our genus will not disappear from the earth like the Dodo!
Good bye, dear friend!
Please help us survive in our natural habitats both for your good and ours!