The eastern lowland gorilla is the largest of the two lowland gorilla subspecies. It is distinguished from other gorillas by its stocky body, large hands and short muzzle. Despite its size, eastern lowland gorillas feed mainly on fruit and other herbaceous materials, just like other gorilla subspecies. its among the popular destinations to be visited to watch the primates on short time like 3 Days lowland gorilla tour with congo gorilla safaris the leading safari company offering gorilla tours to congo including mountain gorillas & lowland gorilla tours.
Years of civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have taken their toll on both the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla. The eastern lowland gorilla makes its home in lowland tropical rainforests in the eastern DRC. This subspecies may now occupy only 13% of its historical range. There were nearly 17,000 eastern lowland gorillas in the mid-1990s but scientists estimate that the population has declined by more than 50% since then. An accurate accounting of the animals has been impossible for many years because of violence in the region.
Throughout the unrest, the gorillas have been vulnerable to poaching, even in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, home to the largest population of protected eastern lowland gorillas. Rebels and poachers invaded the park and people set up illegal mines.
Gorillas are mainly herbivorous. Their staple foods are pith, shoots and leaves. Fruits are also an important component of western lowland gorillas’ diet and are consumed according to their seasonal availability. Over 100 fruit species have been recorded in their diet. In drier months, when fruits are scarce, gorillas supplement their diet with leaves, pith, shoots and bark. They have also been known to eat termites and weaver ants.
The western lowland gorilla is the most widespread and numerous of the four gorilla subspecies. No accurate estimates of their numbers are possible as these elusive apes inhabit some of Africa’s densest and most remote rainforests. However, the total population is thought to number up to 100,000 individuals. In some areas they occur in surprisingly high densities – like in remote swamps or areas with dense leafy growth where they’ve been recorded at exceptionally high densities of almost 10 individuals per square kilometer.
The forests of Congo (Brazzaville) are currently considered to harbour the major population of western lowland gorillas, which are protected by the remoteness of the large, swampy forest areas. Hunting is the main threat to western lowland gorillas. Gorillas are sought after as food (bush meat) and pets, and their body parts are used in medicine and as magical charms.
The impact of hunting on gorilla population has proven to be dramatic. In North East Congo, it has been estimated that approximately 5% of gorillas are killed by hunters each year. Despite national and international laws prohibit the hunting and capture of gorillas throughout their range, rampant corruption in the wildlife legal system weakens the enforcement of existing legislation.
Timber is a major export in Central Africa. Vast areas of rainforest in the western lowland gorilla’s habitat in the Congo Basin have been destroyed or leased out to European and Asian logging companies. The increase in timber extraction and the opening of once remote forest areas together with the easy transport provided by logging vehicles to distant markets, have also facilitated the bush meat trade. The expansion of agriculture also poses a threat, particularly the growth in oil palm plantations.
Central Africa, the home of western lowland gorillas, has been dramatically affected by Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Some scientists estimate that Ebola has killed about one-third of the wild gorilla population here, mainly western lowland gorillas. Evidence suggests that the virus may still be moving through the Congo Basin, placing a large gorilla population at risk.