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Quick Facts

Weight: Males 150-230, females 70- 180 kgs

Size: 1.2m-1.8m

Number of offspring: usually 1 but occasionally 2 with birth intervals of 4 years. Gorillas nurse offspring for 3-4 years, independence will then occur.

Maturity: females; 7-8 years Males; 15 years due to the need to assert dominance in the hierarchy. Offspring will stay with its mother for 3-4 years

Lifespan: wild; 35-40 years, captivity; up to 50 years

Predators: Predation is uncommon due to their large size however young may fall prey to raptors or large carnivores.

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Western low land gorilla

Gorilla gorilla

Habitat

Primarily found in lowland tropical forest particularly where there is dense ground level herbaceous growth, swap forest with new growth and hot and humid with year round rainfall

Natural behavior

Diurnal; living in home ranges, which may overlap. Sleeping for about 13 hrs over night and resting for several hrs during the day. Generally peaceful, shy and amiable unless threatened, although males will beat chest with fists to intimidate or show strength. Gorillas build day and night nests on the ground using branches and leaves.

Description

Largest and most powerful of all primates. 98% of genetic makeup similar to humans.

Distribution

Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, mainland Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Cabinda

Diet

Primarily herbivores eating over 200 types of plants, also feeding on flowers, wood, bark, leaves, fruit and fungus.

Reproduction

No fixed breeding season and mating occurs throughout the year. Once born infants are carried by the mother and by 3 months are able to crawl and cling to their mother. Females provide young with transportation, food as well as protection.

Social structure

Social; group sizes averaging 10 called a troop, composed of at least one adult male, several adult females and their offspring. Groups are lead by the dominant male called a silverback. ( silverbacks have grey hair on their backs which develops with sexual maturity at around 11 years of age.) Mature males called ‘blackbacks’ are driven out by silverbacks and form bachelor groups or their own families with lower ranking females.

Threats

Commercial hunting, Habitat destruction, Disease; Ebola virus, illegal mining, adults poached for bush meat leaving orphaned youngsters to be subjected to the illegal pet trade.