Nahaufnahme eines Flachlandgorillas
Anja Sterker
Written by: Anja Sterker Last updated at: March 1, 2024

Lowland gorilla

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Lowland gorillas, majestic inhabitants of the dense rainforests of Central Africa, fascinate and inspire naturalists, travelers and nature lovers around the world. As the largest primates on earth and our closest relatives in the animal kingdom, they not only offer insights into the evolution and behavior of primates, but also into the importance of nature conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.

Flachlandgorilla schaut hinter einem Baum heraus

The home of the lowland gorilla

Lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) are native to the dense rainforests of the Congo Basin, which extend across the countries of Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and the Central African Republic. These regions provide the gorillas with plenty of food and protection from predators, making them an ideal habitat for this endangered species. Most of these animals live in the Republic of Congo and Gabon. Some areas belong to protected areas, as these gorillas are threatened with extinction. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the population is already extinct.

Characteristics of the lowland gorilla

  • External characteristics: In contrast to the eastern lowland gorilla, western lowland gorillas are smaller in overall size but have longer legs. Nevertheless, the males grow up to 1.80 meters tall; the females reach up to 1.52 meters. At 145 to 191 kilograms, the males are significantly heavier than their female counterparts, which reach 57 to 73 kilograms. The large head has an oval shape and the face is also shorter than that of their eastern relatives. With their strong physique, broad chest and long limbs, they make an imposing impression. The fur is characterized by its brown colouring with a reddish tinge on the head. The males also have a grey coloration on the back; in the older members of the species, the grey also extends to the hips and thighs.
  • Behavior: Gorillas living in groups usually consist of one male, several females and their offspring. The groups of western lowland gorillas are smaller than those of other gorillas - on average, ten members of the same species form a community. As the roaming areas of the different groups overlap, it can happen that their paths cross and several gorillas can be seen in one area. Thus, they move within a range of 500 to 3,200 hectares - the largest roaming area of all primates. However, they only wander around two kilometers of this per day. During encounters, the silverbacks display an imposing behavior, which is noticeable in their characteristic chest drumming. It is only when foraging that the western lowland gorillas may split up. They mainly find what they are looking for in trees, but fruit, leaves, herbs and tree bark can also be found on the ground. From time to time, insects and weaver ants are also on their menu. The males also use foraging to make new female contacts and for this reason sometimes stay longer in the food-rich, swampy forest clearings. Foraging and feeding are the main activities, which are interrupted by several resting periods. The diurnal gorillas finally find their night's rest in uniquely used leaf nests, which the females make for themselves and their young in trees and the heavier males prefer to make on the ground.

Threats and conservation measures

Although lowland gorillas have natural predators such as leopards and pythons, they are mainly threatened by habitat loss and poaching. Increasing deforestation, mining and the expansion of human settlements are threatening their habitat, while illegal hunting for their meat and the demand for their body parts are further decimating the population.

Various conservation organizations and governments are working to ensure the protection of lowland gorillas. The establishment of protected areas such as national parks and reserves, the implementation of awareness campaigns on the importance of conservation and the promotion of sustainable tourism projects are crucial steps to ensure the long-term protection of this endangered species.

An unforgettable travel experience

A visit to the lowland gorillas in the Republic of Congo promises an unforgettable travel experience full of adventure and discovery. From guided trekking tours through the dense rainforest to encounters with the gorillas in the wild, Congo offers a variety of ways to experience these fascinating animals. Encountering gorillas in their natural habitat is a deeply moving experience that raises awareness of nature conservation and the importance of preserving biodiversity.

The lowland gorillas of the Congo are not only impressive animals, but also ambassadors for the protection of the rainforests and the conservation of biodiversity. A trip to the Republic of the Congo offers the unique opportunity to experience these fascinating creatures up close and personal while making a contribution to nature conservation. For travelers longing for an unforgettable adventure while experiencing the beauty and diversity of nature, the Congo with its lowland gorillas is the ideal destination.