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primates
bovid family
other herbivores
carnivores
primates

wildlife (back to intro)

in this section
Ververt Monkey
Savanna Baboon
Colobus or Guereza
Gorilla
Chimpanzee
Gorilla: Gorilla gorilla

Subspecies:
- Western lowland gorilla: G. g. gorilla
- Eastern lowland gorilla: G. g. graueri (Endangered)
- Mountain gorilla: G. g. beringei (Endangered)

Characteristics

Weight and Height
males: wt 352 lb (160 kg), ht 4 ft 8 in - 6 ft (1.4-1.8 m)
females: wt 150-250 lb (68-114 kg), ht up to 5 ft (1.5 m)

Color
blue-black to brownish gray, bare skin is black (nose, ears, lips, soles, palms, chest)

General Location
Western lowland gorilla: rainforest of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and Central African Republic. The population totals roughly 40,000.

Eastern lowland gorilla: Found in Eastern Zaire and areas near the Rwanda boarder. Roughly 4,000 found in isolated rainforest regions.

Mountain gorilla: Inhabits Zaire, Rwanda, and Uganda. In 1992, approximately 320 were living in these regions and around 300 were living in forest regions of Uganda.

The gorilla can be seen in the following National Parks and Reserves: Parks and Reserves throughout Rwanda and Zaire, especially Parc de Volcans, Kahusi-Biega, and Virunga NP.


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Ecology
The gorilla lives in humid rainforests along the equator. Gorillas eat plants that grow only in areas that receive intense sunlight exposure. Mountain gorillas live in forests between 9200 and 11,200 ft (2800-3499 m) and occasionally are found in meadows at around 13,000 ft (4000 m). Eastern lowland gorillas can also be found in the mountains between 6600 and 8000 ft (2000-2500 m).

The mountain gorilla feeds on 58 different kinds of plants in 7 different vegetation zones. There are 9 of these plants that make up 80% of their food intake and just 3 species of plants (vine, thistle, and celery) make up 60% of the gorilla's diet. Gorillas also eat roots, fruits, shoots, leaves, bark, pith, and grubs which grow on rotting wood. A unique thing about gorillas is the fact that they do not share their food with others.

Activity
The gorilla is a diurnal mammal with a fairly consistent daily schedule. On cold or rainy days, the mountain gorilla will stay huddled together for warmth and tend not to get anything accomplished while other gorilla will spend 30% of their time feeding, 30% traveling, and 40% resting. On average, the gorilla will travel approximately 380-600 yd and up to 1170 yd (1 km) daily in other equatorial regions.


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Social Systems
Gatherings or selected groups of gorilla are called harems. Harems are nonterritorial groupings of gorillas which have 2-12 members in each. A harem consists of 1 mature male, 1 young male, 3 wives, and 2 offspring. A harem's home range is typically 1.5 to 3 sq. mi (4-8 sq. km), but in other areas can be as large as 7-9 sq. mi (20-25 sq. km).

Reproduction
The gestation period is 8.5 months and there is a 4 year interval between births. Researchers believe that part of the reason why gorillas are endangered is because of the high mortality rate of the young. In some regions the mortality rate is as high as 46% which means that if a male lives for 40 years he will only leave 2 to 6 living offspring or 10 to 20 if he lives to be 50 to 60 years of age.

Predators
Leopards and humans



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