Toronto Zoo, Ontario
Western lowland gorillas are endangered, but they remain far more common than their relatives, the mountain gorillas. They live in heavy rain forests, and it is difficult for scientists to accurately estimate how many survive in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Western lowland gorillas tend to be a bit smaller than their mountain cousins. They also have shorter hair and longer arms. Size :Standing height, 4 to 6 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m). Weight:150 to 400 lbs (68 to 181 kg)
In captivity, gorillas have displayed significant intelligence and have even learned simple human sign language.
In the wild, these primates are under siege. Forest loss is a twofold threat; it destroys gorilla habitat and brings hungry people who hunt gorillas for bushmeat. Farming, grazing, and expanding human settlements are also shrinking the lowland gorilla's space.
Angola (status unknown)
The Western Lowland Gorilla is found in the northern part of the Cabinda exclave of Angola in the Mayombe forests. Only a few dozen individuals remain.
Cameroon (Critically Endangered)
The nominate form (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) is distributed in Cameroon southeast of the Sanaga River. The vast majority of Cameroon’s gorillas (several thousand) are found in the humid tropical forests of the southeast, with strongholds in the Lobeke, Boumba-Bek and Nki National Parks. There is a small population of gorillas in the Ebo forest, north of the Sanaga, but from genetic information it is suspected that these, and any others north of the Sanaga, may be members of a separate subspecies already known from the Cameroon-Nigeria border, the Cross River Gorilla (G. g. diehli).
Central African Republic (Critically Endangered)
The gorilla is found in the southwestern corner of Central African Republic. It is present in Dzanga-Ndoki National Park and in the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve (ca 5,000 km²). This area is contiguous with good habitats in the Congo (Nouabale-Ndoki National Park and its buffer zone (Sangha Region).
Republic of the Congo (Critically Endangered)
The Western Lowland Gorilla still occurs in the Republic of Congo north of the Equator, particularly in the well-protected areas of the Nouabale-Ndoki National Park and its buffer zone, the Lac Tele Community Reserve (especially in the patches dominated by Raphia swamp forests), and the area east of the Odzala National Park known as the Ngombe-Pikounda area. The Odzala National Park itself, once the stronghold of many thousands of apes, has suffered from the Ebola outbreaks of the early 2000’s in which large numbers of apes have died. Recent surveys by WCS (2007-2008) indicate that perhaps half of the world population of Western Lowland Gorillas lives in the forests of northern Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly considered Probably Extinct)
The Western Lowland Gorilla was until very recently considered as probably extinct in the Mayombe forests (Bas-Congo, extreme western DRC). Recent reports (Redmond, 2006) suggest that a small (transboundary) migrating population of a few tens of animals might survive.
Gabon (Critically Endangered)
Western Lowland Gorillas used to occur throughout Gabon’s forests, but in the last two decades their distribution has shrunk alarmingly and about half of the population has disappeared. The northeast of the country was hit by Ebola haemorrhagic fever between 1996-2003 and almost all apes in that area died. In addition they are absent from all areas around larger towns and are quasi-absent in most of the northwest of the country due to hunting pressure.
Equatorial Guinea (Critically Endangered)
The Western Lowland Gorilla still occurs in Rio Muni, the continental part of the country but no recent surveys have taken place. In the 1990s, gorillas occurred in Monte Alen National Park just across the border from the Monts de Cristal in Gabon (Garcia & Mba 1997). In 199