Go Go Go-Rilla

Gorilla gorilla gorilla is the scientific name for the western lowland gorilla. They are found exclusively in very dense African rainforests, in a region called the Congo Basin. This makes it very difficult to determine the exact number of wild western lowland gorillas. Even though scientists do not know the exact number of western lowland gorillas, they do know that they are the largest subspecies of gorilla. As far as anatomy is concerned, western lowland gorillas are smaller than other subspecies, despite being the largest of all primates. They get to be around four to five feet in height, and over 400 pounds. These gorillas are also have a distinctive coloration. They are much more brown and grey compared to their other gorilla companions. Their ears are also smaller, and apart of a skull that is wider than most subspecies. Another key feature is their very prominent brow ridge. Unlike a lot of primates, they do not have tails. Like humans, gorillas have nails instead of claws. However, unlike humans, gorillas have an opposable toe on their foot. They also have very different teeth, and skulls compared to humans.

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skulls
Photos taken from https://seaworld.org/animal-info/animal-infobooks/gorilla/physical-characteristics 

Western lowland gorillas are few in number, which makes finding food, and reproduction all the more important. They like to eat fruits, but for the most part eat leafs and young plants. Throughout the day a group of four to the gorillas will walk, and sit around eating. When they are sexually mature, a female will have a nine month gestation period. They usually only have one offspring every four years. Once they are matured enough, the young are then forced to leave the group, and must find their own group to live among. They will be sexually mature at around eight if they are female, and around twenty if they are males. They can live up to 50 years, making it all the more important that young are able to successful mature, and reproduce.

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Photo taken from http://wwf.panda.org/_core/general.cfc?method=getOriginalImage&ulmgID=%26%2AR4%28%20%3E%5B2%0A

According to the IUCN Red List, G. gorilla gorilla is listed as critically endangered. This is due impart to poaching, habitat loss, and disease. Wherever there are unique animals, there is someone who wants to own it as a pet. Unfortunately, this means that western lowland gorillas are being taken out of their natural environment, or killed. Given that gorillas inhabit the most dense forests of Africa, logging companies are constantly encroaching on the territory of lowland gorillas. In this case, gorillas are either displaced, or are not match for logging machines and their rifle carrying operators. A big headline a few years ago was Ebola, a virus that finds its origins in Africa. Gorillas are susceptible to catching, and even dying from this disease. Unfortunately, the gorillas do not have any means of treating Ebola, or preventing further spreading of it.

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My photo taken at the Lincoln Park Zoo

These risks to gorillas have sparked conservation efforts by humans. Remarkably, there are scientist that are attempting to develop a vaccine that could be used to protect gorillas from the Ebola virus. Sustainability is something that is gaining more, and more momentum in Africa. There are so many valuable aspects to Africa, the western lowland gorilla and the forests they inhabit being some of those. They are finite in number, and have been abused throughout history. Now we are developing the ways to protect all that Africa has to offer. By reducing the logging of natural forests, displaced gorillas are able to return to their homelands, and there is no more encroachment upon their homes. Turning the gorillas homeland into nature preserves has been a helpful step in protecting wildlife. This makes it so that logging companies cannot just move in, and tear apart the homes of native wildlife. The creation of nature reserves also brings tourism to these countries where western lowland gorillas live. With tourism comes a better economic state. This monetary influx can in turn be put back into the educating of tourist, and conservation of the wester lowland gorillas.

 

Additional resources

https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/mammals/lemursmonkeysapes/westernlowlandgorilla

http://www.lpzoo.org/animal/western-lowland-gorilla 

 

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