The eastern lowland gorillas belong to one of the 2 sub species of eastern gorilla that lives in the jungle of Eastern and Central Africa together with lowland swamps and secondary forests and the other sub-species is the rare mountain gorilla. They can be in seen on the tree species throughout Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The eastern lowland gorillas are often seen compared to the mountain gorillas but equally, they are all described as big Apes in the world. Scientifically, the eastern lowland gorilla is referred as Grauer’s gorilla which is one of the huge sub species out of the 4 gorilla sub-species. The eastern lowland gorillas are one of the largest primates whose family consists of orangutans, gorillas, humans and chimpanzees.
These massive creatures can be differentiated using their appearance-they have nose prints that are the patterns of wrinkles on their noses each of which is unique from every gorilla, stocky and large hands that help in peeling fruits and they also have short muzzle. Besides their size, eastern lowland gorillas depend on fruit and other herbaceous materials like any other sub species of gorillas. Many occasions, the eastern lowland gorillas are seen roaming to longer distances to search for what to eat through the jungles. They feed on leaves, bamboo shoots, nuts and berries together with insects and small species like lizards and rodents. Most importantly, these species have also been sighted utilizing basic tools in the wild as a means to effectively harvest what to eat. These spectacular creatures become active in the course of the day where they construct a new nest every day to spend their night but mothers share with their babies. Viewing these splendid primates sitting harmoniously in the jungles while feeding and socializing is a real magical experience that you shouldn’t miss out in life.
Since they have huge body, these sub-species rarely have real predators in their natural habitat especially with huge cats like leopards and the odd crocodile being the real natural threat to their lives. But like any other endangered gorilla species, the largest threat to the eastern lowland gorillas is equally habitat loss which is brought by deforestation as well as poaching. Also, some of the parts of the eastern lowland gorillas’ territories have been occupied by rebel group in DRC some thing that has levied much negative impacts due to poaching and today their numbers are highly at risk of extinction in the wild. Today, there are less than 5000 eastern lowland gorillas in the world and less than 250 reside in the jungles of Kahuzi Biega National Park DRC. This number differs from the 17000 eastern lowland gorillas that were estimated in the mid 1990’s. These impressive creatures range around 21600 square kilometers and their population range is fragmented and divided as result of escalating human pressure and land use activities.
Just like the rare mountain gorillas, the lowland gorillas also live in families that are headed and guarded by an Alpha male commonly referred as silverback gorilla. The alpha male gorillas mate with the female gorillas in their respective families and they give birth to one baby gorilla after 4 years and this also denotes that over the 25 year lifespan, the female gorilla can only produce in average three babies. The lowland gorilla babies remain with their mother gorillas till they are a few years old and they can live independently. The gestation period for female gorillas is around eight and half months. The lowland gorilla babies in most cases are helpless when they are born and they start walking independently after at least 9 months. The newly born baby gorilla is nursed up to 3 years before they are set to live on their own. The female lowland gorillas become mature at around ten years. The slow reproductive rate denotes that it can take several years for their number to recover from the severe threats like poaching and ongoing civil unrest.
These incredible and harmonious creatures mainly live within a family of 5 to 30 members. The adult male gorillas weigh up to 250kg in captivity but in the natural habitat they normally weigh 200kg. The female lowland gorillas are smaller than the males and the have a maximum weight of 110kg.
Like any primate, the eastern lowland gorillas also have a vocal communication that occurs between member gorillas and within bigger families. The adults and babies have diverse calls based on the condition. Close calls are commonly given within the family in conditions of either potential separation or potential conflict. Extra family calls serve to alert family members of the likely predation and include barks or are given as long distance threat is sighted when external family intrudes. They also add it with strong chest beat, which is a common non vocal communication criterion.
In conclusion, the eastern lowland gorillas are equally impressive primates that are worth viewing while in a safari in the jungles of Democratic Republic of Congo. Viewing these remarkable wild creatures, tourists can visit Kahuzi Biega National Park in Eastern DRC.