Foundation‎ > ‎

WLG Facts

The western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) belongs to the family 'hominidae' which includes four extant genera: gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutangs and humans.  

The western lowland gorilla has been recognised within the  tropical rainforests of six west central African countries: Angola, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic.  Their only (reported) predators are leopards, although rare, and humans. 
Fast Facts:
  • Scientific name: Gorilla gorilla gorilla
  • Distinguishing characteristic (from Eastern Gorillas): brown reddish head, smaller body size 
  • Diet: vegetarian with some insects
  • Locomotion: quadrupedal knuckle-walking and bipedalism (on short distances)
  • Average lifespan (in the wild): 35 years 
  • Standing height: Adult male (average of 1.7 m), Adult female (average of 1.3 m) 
  • Weight: Adult male (average of 180 Kg), Adult female (average of 90 Kg) 
  • Weight at birth: approximately 2 Kg
  • Social Structure: 1 male - multifemale groups (harems) 
  • Protection status: Critically Endangered
The western lowland gorilla is the largest living primate. They have broad shoulders, a muscular neck, as well as  strong hands and feet. Their considerable size enables defense against most potentiel predators and allows them to live in relative safety on the ground. The western lowland gorilla's body is covered by short, thin grey-black or brown-black hair. A gorilla's face has no hair and has a thick supra-orbital bony ridge above the eyes. 
Western lowland gorillas can walk for short distances on two legs (bipedalism), however, they generally walk quadrupedally using their knuckles (known as 'knuckle-walking).
Social Structure
Western lowland gorillas form small, non-territorial harems usually lead by a single, mature male commonly known as the "dominant" silverback. They live in a structured group of between 6-22 individuals usually consisting of one adult male silverback, 3-4 unrelated adult female gorillas and several juvenile / infant youngsters.  The silverback is the dominant figure in the family and regulates the group's schedule.  Western lowland gorillas spend several hours eating in the morning, rest during late-morning and early-afternoon (although young gorillas play with each other while adults sleep) and continue eating in the afternoon until nesting at night starting around 17:00.  While western lowland gorillas are social creatures, the strongest bond ussually takes form between the silverback and his female mates.
Western lowland gorillas are quiet, shy, and non-agressive. There is very little conflict between groups with overlapping territories. 
Adult males can, however, perform elaborate displays, including chest beats, sideway runs, and tearing up vegetation, which all serve to deter an intruding male (and other threats) or express their dominance within a group. Adult females can become agressive while defending their infants, or while helping each other drive off rowdy, young adult male gorillas. The silverback is the peace keeper and intervenes between occasional squabbles between female gorillas.



A mature male Western Lowland Gorilla has silver fur on its back, called as 'Silverback Gorilla' - image by Michael Viljoen










Gorilla Mabeke