Of the two existing species of gorilla, the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) is by far the more numerous and widespread. It can be found in Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.
These large great apes are mostly herbivores, eating seeds, leaves, fruit, and other plant matter. Western lowland gorillas live in family groups consisting of a dominant male, several females, and their young. They maintain relatively large home ranges in swamps and lowland forests, which provide food sources and nesting sites. Like other great apes, western lowland gorillas are long-lived, reaching 40 years in the wild and over 50 in captivity.
There are approximately 150,000 to 200,000 western lowland gorillas remaining in the wild today, but their population is declining quickly due to human activities. Despite universal legal protection from hunting, capture, and trade, these critically endangered apes are often poached for bush meat. As global demand for palm oil rises, large tracts of the western lowland gorilla’s forest habitat are threatened by conversion to plantations. Gorillas are also susceptible to disease epidemics, especially fast-spreading diseases like the Ebola virus, which can quickly wipe out large populations.
Current conservation plans call for careful planning of economic activities and increased awareness education for all local groups near gorilla habitats. Because the gorilla’s range crosses national borders, successful conservation efforts will require the coordination of multiple countries.
What challenges do western lowland gorillas face from human and natural causes?
Where can western lowland gorillas be found, and what sort of habitat do they use?
What actions have conservation plans suggested for the preservation of western lowland gorilla populations, and what complicates these actions?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry bush meat Noun
meat acquired through the hunting of wild animals, particularly in Africa and Asia.
management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.
Encyclopedic Entry: conservation critically endangered Noun
level of conservation between "endangered" and "extinct in the wild."
harmful condition of a body part or organ.
main or most important.
outbreak of an infectious disease able to spread rapidly.
Encyclopedic Entry: epidemic habitat Noun
environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.
Encyclopedic Entry: habitat herbivore Noun
organism that eats mainly plants and other producers.
Encyclopedic Entry: herbivore palm oil Noun
fat from the fruit of an oil palm tree used to make soap, candles, grease, and food.
large estate or farm involving large landholdings and many workers.
to hunt, trap, or fish illegally.