Skip to content

62. Eastern Gorilla

Gorilla beringei

About

The Eastern gorilla is the largest living primate, and as a great ape; they are also close relatives of humans.

The Western and Eastern gorillas were previously classified as the same species, although they are more genetically distant from one another than chimpanzees and bonobos are. There are two subspecies of eastern gorilla; the mountain gorilla (G. b. beringei) and the eastern lowland gorilla, or Grauer’s gorilla (G. b. graueri). Both subspecies are critically endangered, but each have their own differing threats. The eastern lowland gorilla is particularly vulnerable to illegal hunting associated with artisanal mining camps and for commercial trade. The mountain gorilla is also vulnerable to the impact of climate change on the forests of the Albertine Rift escarpment; which would lead to the upslope migration of species, as well as changes to food availability and habitat quality. Both species are threatened by habitat destruction, notably for agriculture. Recent surveys estimate populations of this subspecies have dropped 77% in one generation to 3,800 individuals. Conversely, the 880 mountain gorillas are steadily recovering, making them the only great ape taxon that has been increasing in number.

  • Order: Primates
  • Family: Hominidae
  • Population: <5,000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 1.5-1.7m
  • Weight: 90-205.5kg

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.28 (?)
ED Score: 11.3 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct

Distribution

The eastern gorilla are found in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), northwest Rwanda and southwest Uganda.

Habitat and Ecology

Eastern gorillas live in dense mature and secondary lowland tropical rainforest through transitional forests to Afromontane habitat, including bamboo forest, subalpine grassland on volcanic peaks, swamp and peat bog. Their diet varies depending on elevation and its effect on food availability. They are largely herbivorous, feeding on stems, piths, leaves, bark and occasionally ants. Both subspecies feed almost exclusively on young bamboo shoots when they are in season twice a year. Gorillas at lower elevations have a more diverse and seasonal diet. Both Grauer’s gorillas in lowland forest and Bwindi gorillas are frugivorous.

Find out more

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Urban development Tourism Habitat change Crops Livestock Fossil fuel Mining Roads/Rail Hunting Logging Recreation Wars Fire Native species Viruses

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
a
a
a
a
a
a
a
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org