Western Lowland gorillas

Western Lowland gorillas in Congo- Gorilla Trekking 

When your plans are to come to odzala national park in congo, dont get mixed feelings of what should you do, what to see in odzala , where to stay, the answer is just simple its gorilla trekking destination in Africa that is known to be the home for the western lowland gorillas .

Facts about Western Lowland gorillas.

Despite a global population of around 100 000, western lowland gorillas are classed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN due to the risks they face from habitat loss, the bush meat trade and transmission of diseases from humans.

Many of the guests that come to Odzala have previously encountered mountain gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda. There are several key differences between the two species which mean that the tracking and viewing experience at Odzala differs from mountain gorilla viewing.

As their name suggests, western lowland gorillas are not found in mountain areas, but rather in tropical lowland forest areas. They are slightly smaller than their mountain cousins and (because it is much warmer at lower altitudes) they lack the very thick fur of mountain gorillas (which also exaggerates the apparent size difference).

Western lowland gorillas can be distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears.

Though western lowland gorilla 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 coarse 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. They have short muzzles, a prominent brow ridge, large nostrils and small eyes and ears. Other features are large muscles in the jaw region along with broad and strong teeth. Among these teeth are strong sets of frontal canines and large molars in the back of the mouth for grinding vegetables.

Crucially, from a behavioral point of view, western lowland gorillas tend to rest in cover during the midday siesta in contrast to mountain gorillas which rest in open clearings. Therefore noise from unseen humans could disturb the lowland gorillas and so they have to be observed while feeding / active.

An important plant species for western lowland gorillas is marantaceae a shrubby plant that grows in profusion on the forest floor. It is also used by gorillas for cover and to build nests. Seeing them clearly through the marantaceae, even from close range can be more challenging. However you are more likely to see unique behaviour e.g. play and tree-climbing (especially when trees are fruiting).

Gorilla daily routine and behaviour.

  • In the Morning they leave the overnight nests while it’s cool. Forage on the move until a productive feeding site is found. This is the best time to find and observe the gorillas.
  • In the Midday (siesta period) individuals make day nests in which they relax; the youngsters can’t resist interacting with each other
  • In the Afternoon more foraging; find an overnight nesting site and settle down for the night