Eastern Lowland Gorilla

The eastern lowland gorillas also known as Grauer’s gorillas, are found in the mountainous-forested regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Kahuzi Biega National Park. They are the largest sub species of the gorillas in the whole world. They are distinguished from other gorillas by their stocky body, large hands, short hair, short teeth and short muzzle. Despite their size, eastern lowland gorillas feed mainly on leaves and other plants but rarely feed on fruits. The male adult gorilla can weigh up to 272 kilograms but females weigh quite less. Like other species, feeding is done in the early morning after then, they rest in the afternoon and in the early evening as they head to the sleeping site.

When it comes to behaviors, the eastern lowland gorillas live in families ranging from 2-30 individuals. Each family is headed by one silver back that plans and defends for the entire group from any attack as well as females in the family nurse the young ones. The reproductive cycle in the eastern lowland gorilla is quite slow just like other gorilla species. The silver back is the one to mate with all the female adults in the entire family. Each female gives birth to one baby gorilla in about every four years and the baby keeps with the mum for at least 3 to 4 years after which they start moving alone.

Due to increased human activities over the past 50 years, their range has rapidly decreased to 3800 individuals as for 2016 census. This indicates that the rare species are highly endangered, and are at the high risk of extinction. Such a decrease qualifies the gorilla species to be categorized as the critically endangered species and put under the care of the international union conservation of nature (IUCN). The decrease in the eastern low land gorillas has been due to several factors, which include poaching. This is done by the armed people who fled to seek refuge in the national park due to the civil wars in the democratic republic of Congo. Also local people who entirely depend on the forest for livelihood hunt down the specie for meat and selling.

On top of all, years of civil unrest in the country have also taken a serious suffering on the gorillas. Throughout the protracted conflicts, gorillas have been vulnerable to poaching. Even Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which is home to the largest population of protected eastern lowland gorillas, could not offer them a safe place. Rebels and poachers invaded the park and people set up illegal mines. Hence a great need for lowland gorilla conservation through introduction of properly managed tourism system to aid in the conservation efforts for the critically endangered eastern lowland gorillas in the Kahuzi Biega national park. This calls upon, governments, nongovernmental organizations, park managers, local people and travelers to care for the species so as to ensure sustainability.