Western Gorilla – Gorilla gorilla
Western gorillas are smaller than the Eastern gorilla but not by much. They are very much the same in their physical appearance. There are two sub species of the Western gorilla – the Western Lowland gorilla and the Cross River Gorilla. These gorillas are usually black too but they can be a dark brown or even grayish in color. One characteristic that is different from the Eastern gorilla is that there is an overhang at the tip of the nose.
Even though the Western gorilla is very heavy, it seems to be more agile than the Eastern gorilla. While this has been observed and documented researchers aren’t able to explain why this is. Some believe it could be the fact that their diet seems to consist of more types of fruits. This additional fiber could be part of why they have such an ability but it hasn’t been confirmed.
There are more than 100 different types of fruit trees that the Western gorilla will dine on. Many of them are seasonal so they will consume different ones throughout the year. They also eat twigs, leaves, grass, and small insects including termites.
They are known to use various types of tools including sticks and rocks to help them get to food sources. They will smash the shells of nuts with rocks even though they have teeth strong enough to get to what is inside of them.
They spend about 30% of their day eating a variety of foods. They are careful not to remove all of the vegetation from a given area before they move on to the next location. It is the responsibility of the silverback to move the troop on when he feels it is time.
Reproduction can take place at any time of the year for Western gorillas. The silverback in the troop will only mate with the females in his own group. To help with genetics, the young females and males leave the troop they were born into when they are mature and go find their own troops to be a part of.
The females are extremely good caregivers, and they take care of their young for about the first 3 years of life. They won’t reproduce often so that they can focus on caring for the young they already have. Should their offspring die though they will reproduce again much sooner.
While there are quite a few more Western gorillas than the Eastern species, they are also classified as endangered animals. There are approximately 100,000 of the Western Lowland gorilla. There are only about 300 remaining of the Cross River gorilla though so that sub spices is considered to have the highest risk of extinction of all the identified categories of gorillas out there in the world.
The Western gorilla has suffered dramatic drops in population due to various viruses. These health problems seem to spread very fast through troops. They also can be picked up by other troops that happen to venture into the same feeding areas. Outbreaks of the Ebola virus is a huge problem that continues to threaten the population of these gorillas in spite of all of the conservation that is in place.
In 2008 there was an amazing discovery in the Republic of Congo. Approximately 125,000 Western gorillas were found that no one knew existed. Even with that finding though these animals continue to be very high on the list of endangered species.
All most all of the gorillas in captivity are Western gorillas. They are basically very calm and there have been plenty of reports of people being saved by them as well. Western gorillas are often hunted illegally though for their meat and for trophies. Protecting them against such interactions with humans is crucial for conservation efforts to be helpful