Image via Wikipedia
The eastern lowland
is one of the most endangered species in the world. Their numbers have been calculated to around three thousand, but with civil war and poaching in their habitats that number is probably far less. The eastern lowland gorillas’ scientific name is Gorilla beringei graueri. They are found only in the tropical forests of eastern Zaire, Africa, in central Africa. They range in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been in civil disarray for years.
The eastern lowland gorilla has a very complex social structure. They live in large family groups. Their numbers have been reported up to 20 individuals, and in very rare cases as many as 30. Male silverbacks are the
leaders; a few unrelated females and younger males also maintain the family. Females will leave to find single males when they are sexually mature around age eight. Only females related to each other will groom one another, since the bonds between related and unrelated females are loose.
Males mature much later than their female counter parts. They become sexually mature around fifteen or twenty years old. About half will leave their native families to join another family at this time or become solitary. Fights often break out for mating rights and these can be deadly. Females only give birth every four years. Only the silverbacks in the groups are allowed to mate with the females in the family. This allows them to keep dominance and stabilize the family.
Eastern lowland gorillas tend to live an average of thirty-five years in the wild. They are the largest primates, therefore mostly terrestrial. Not much is known of their habits since they are shy animals and their numbers are dropping in a highly dangerous area of the world. Their diet consists mainly of leaves. They are not particularly fond of fruits. They forage usually at morning and evening, resting in the middle of the day.
The eastern lowland gorilla is the most intelligent primate. They can make twenty-five different vocalizations all with a specific meaning. Some have been taught sign language and know a few words. Simple sentences can be formed through this.
There are many differences and similarities between apes and the other primates. For example, while prosimians have a wide range for a diet, including fruits, leaves and nuts, gorillas tend to stick with leaves. Also, since apes are too large to climb branches or trees, they stay on the ground. Prosimians and monkeys on the other hand are small enough to allow for brachiating.
All primates have social structures. Monkeys and lowland gorillas both have the male transfer
. After they are sexually mature the males leave the family and go into solitude or find new groups to join. Also gibbons and gorillas have mixed families that have males, females and juveniles included in the group.
While prosimians and monkeys may have families or groups of up to six hundred members, the eastern lowland gorillas tend to have small families of only twenty to thirty. Monkeys and prosimians in the new world rely on their sense of smell, while old world apes have an increased sense of sight, such as in humans.
The eastern lowland gorillas are giant, intelligent apes that are in critical danger of becoming extinct. They share some similarities of other primates while they differ in other aspects.
“The Eastern Gorillas, Gorilla beringei.” IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. Web. 22 Oct. 2009.
“Eastern Lowland Gorilla at Animal Corner.” Animal Information at Animal Corner. Web. 22 Oct. 2009.
“Eastern Lowland Gorilla.” News & Events. Web. 22 Oct. 2009.