Lowland Gorillas

Lowland Gorillas

The lowland gorillas is one of the two subspecies of the western gorillas that live mostly in lowland swamps of Democratic republic of Congo among other areas.These are the ones also found in the zoos.This is the smallest subspecies of gorilla but nevertheless still a primate of exceptional size and strength. This species of gorillas exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism. They possess no tails and have jet black skin along with black hair that covers their entire body except for the face, ears, hands, and feet. The hair on the back and rump of males takes on a grey coloration and is also lost as they get progressively older. This coloration is the reason why older males are known as silverbacks. Their hands are proportionately large with nails on all digits, similar to that of a human’s, and very large thumbs. Males can weigh up to 300-600 kgs.

Low land gorilla groups travel within a home range of approximately 12 sq.miles and they don’t and they tend to favour a given habitat areas but tend to follow a seasonal pattern depending on the presence of rippening fruits.Populations feeding on high-energy foods that vary spatially and seasonally tend to have greater day ranges than those feeding on lower-quality but more consistently available foods. Larger groups travel greater distances in order to obtain sufficient food. Human hunters and leopards can also influence the movement patterns.

It is easier for males to travel alone and move between groups as a result of the solidarity they experienced before finding their own breeding group. Before reaching the age of sexual maturity, males leave their natal group and go through a “bachelor stage” that can last several years either in solidary or in a nonbreeding group.However, while both sexes leave their birth group, females are never found alone; they just travel from breeding group to breeding group. It is also true that males like to settle with other male members of their family. Their breeding groups consist of one silverback male, three adult females and their offspring.The male gorilla takes on the role as the protector. Females tend to make bonds with other females in their natal group only, but rather form strong bonds with males. Males also compete aggressively with each other for contact to females.

The group of gorillas is led by one or more adult males. In cases where there are more than one silverback males in a group, they are most likely related in a father son scenario. Groups containing only one male are believed to be the basic unit of the social group, gradually growing in size due to reproduction and new members migrating in. Low land gorillas harvest most of their food , but less than half of their night nests are built in trees. lowland gorillas live in the smallest family groups of all gorillas, with an average of between 4 to 8 members in each. The Silverback organizes group activities, like eating, nesting, and traveling in their home range.Low land gorillas are generally calm and nonaggressive unless they are disturbed. Young gorillas, from three to six years old, remind human observers of children. Much of their day is spent in play, climbing trees, chasing one another, and swinging from branches.

Female Western lowland gorillas do not produce many offspring due to the fact that they do not reach sexual maturity till the age of 8 or 9. Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Infants can be dependent on their mother for up to five years.Female lowland gorillas living in a group led by a single male have been observed to display sexual behavior during all stages of their reproductive cycle and during times of non-contraception.

The presence of lowland gorillas has allowed humans to further the study of how gorillas compare with humans in regards to human diseases and behavior. They are hunted illegally for their skins and meat in Africa and captured to be sold to zoos. Generally, female gorillas mature at 10–12 years of age and their male counterparts mature slower, rarely strong and dominant enough to reproduce before 15–20 years of age.

Low land gorillas are very intelligent in that they have the ability to fashion natural materials into tools that help them gather food more conveniently.

Swamp forests are now considered important feeding areas and habitats for the lowland gorilla. These areas support the gorillas in both the wet and the dry season of the forest.The forests of the Republic of Congo are currently considered to host the majority of the lowland gorilla population. The forests of the Republic of Congo serve as protection to the gorillas with the isolation of the large swampy forest areas.As herbivores, the main diet of lowland gorilla groups is roots, shoots, fruit, tree bark and pulp which is provided for in the thick forests of central and west Africa.They also eat insects from time to time. The adult will eat around 18 kg of food per day.Gorillas will climb trees in search of food. They never completely strip vegetation from a single area since the rapid regrowth of the vegetation allows them to stay within a reasonably confined home range for extended periods of time.However, when ripe fruit is available, they tend to eat more fruit as opposed to foliage. When ripe fruit is in scarce supply, they eat leaves, herbs, and bark.

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