All about western gorilla

All about western gorilla

Gorillas are the largest primates out there and are closely related to humans as we share a high percentage of our genes. These animals are incredible, to the point that there are people who give them intelligence skills because of their ways of communicating and because they are able to develop skills with the use of tools. But as a high percentage of animal biodiversity, gorillas are heavily threatened.



  • Africa
  • Angola
  • Cameroon
  • Congo (Kinshasa)
  • Gabon
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Nigeria

Western Gorilla Characteristics

Gorillas are cute primates broadrobust and with surprising strength matching their weight and size. In the species there is sexual dimorphism, since males are larger than females, reaching a weight of around 180 kg in their natural state. But in captivity, they can reach 275 kg. In turn, in general, women reach half of these weights. In relation to height, on average, the first measure 1.75 m and the second 1.25 m.

These animals are covered almost entirely by coarse and intense black fur, with the exception of the face, ears, hands and feet. In this species, individuals with slightly brown to grey colouration can be found. There is a peculiarity regarding the males’ coat, with age, some develop a grey colouration on the back and one of these dominant males takes control of the group. This led to their being known as silverbacks.


Western gorillas have a short snout, small eyes and ears, with large nostrils so that they stand out from the face. As for the jaws, they are also large, with strong, wide teeth. These animals have an opposable thumb, like humans, a characteristic that provides certain skills in terms of hand manipulation.

Western Gorilla Subspecies

The western gorilla belongs to the Gorilla gorilla species and is divided into two subspecies:

  • The western plains gorilla ( Gorilla gorilla gorilla )
  • The Cross River Gorilla (Gorila gorila diehli)

western gorilla habitat

Western gorillas thrive mainly in secondary woods, with an open canopy that allows good sunlight on the ground. The region’s rivers and habitat fragmentation are the barriers that this species commonly has.

The western lowland gorilla can be located in both swampy areas and upland lowland forests, located in Cameroon south of the Congo River and also east of the Ubangi River. In turn, the Cross River gorilla subspecies is found in the border area between Nigeria and Cameroon. In the upper part of the Cross River, distributed in quite remote forests, it is more likely that they seek to distance themselves from human activities, such as hunting, but eventually, it may be in lowland areas.

western gorilla customs

This species of a gorilla is used to living in groups, there is a certain difference in number according to subspecies. The Cross River gorilla tends to herd up to about 20 individuals, while the western lowland lives in average congregations of 10 gorillas.

In these families, there is a male silverback who is dominant and females with their offspring. However, it is common for younger men to also live close to the core group. The silverback can be displaced by another younger male who shows greater strength. When this occurs, usually the new leader kills the youngsters from the old one, in order to interrupt the mothers’ breastfeeding and for them to enter the reproductive phase, in order to seek to guarantee the production of their children. The displaced person often leads a solitary life.

Gorillas are generally shy and peaceful, but that doesn’t lessen their ferocity, especially males, they can be quite aggressive and dangerous intruders or if they feel threatened. The typical behaviour of a boring man is to tap his chest in an upright position, in addition to growling loudly.

These animals have a habit of forming nests with branches, which they can do in a tree or on the ground, which will help them sleep. On the other hand, it is also common for them to treat each other.

western gorilla feeding

The western gorilla is primarily a herbivorous species, which consumes stems of succulent plants, but also includes the leaves, pods and bark that are fibrous.

Gorilla subspecies gorilla diehli , consume terrestrial herbs and bark throughout the year, while fruits are limited to seasonality. For his part, Gorilla gorilla gorilla feeds on species like Aframomum spp and also consumes the leaves and buds of the Marantaceae family. As for fruits, they also depend on the season. Also, this subspecies includes ants, termites and some aquatic plants in the diet.

These animals feed mainly in the morning and afternoon, spending hours in this activity. On the other hand, they are able to climb great heights to obtain food from some trees.

Western Gorilla Breeding

Women mature sexually at 10 years old, while males mature at 18 years old. The tendency is for the dominant male to be the one who mates with the females in the group and, because of his skills and strength, is preferred by them.

As in humans, gorillas do not have a specific time to reproduce and females have menstrual cycles every 28 days. Gestation time tends to be about 256 days, around nine months and a single calf is born weighing about 2 kg approximately.


Newborns are breastfed for long periods, between about 4 and 5 years, when they reach independence. Females usually reproduce at intervals between 4 to 6 years. An important fact is that the mortality of newborns can reach 65%. However, although men do not interact much with their children, they fiercely protect the family group.

Western Gorilla Conservation Status

The western gorilla is declared to be in critical danger of extinction, with a declining population trendThis is mainly due to the slaughter of this animal for consumption of its meat, although all hunting or capture activities are illegal. The species’ extraction levels are alarming and massive, even in protected areas.

Especially the Cross River Gorilla subspecies is heavily affected, being small and fragmented. Gorillas suffer the consequences of opportunistic hunting, that is, many hunters in search of other species take advantage of the encounter with these animals. Furthermore, it is common for them to be caught in traps used by other animals.

On the other hand, a large part of the territory was given in concessions for logging, so the habitat is heavily intervened. Furthermore, contagion with the Ebola virus is another important cause affecting these primate populations. As if these aspects were not enough, it is estimated that climate change will significantly affect the species’ habitat and, therefore, the same.

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