Many people think that there are basically two types of Gorillas in the world namely; the Lowland and Mountain Gorillas. If not keen enough, one can mistake one for the other and in order to avoid this, a tourist should get the knowledge about their differences. The truth is that there are two species of gorillas; the Eastern Gorilla and the Western Gorilla.
1.The Mountain gorilla is a subspecie of the Eastern Gorilla. Another subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla is the Eastern Lowland Gorilla. The mountain gorillas are found in only three countries in the world; Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. There are fewer than 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world. The Lowland Gorillas are found in 7 countries; the Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire), the Republic of Congo, Angola, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Cameroon.
2. One of the unique features of mountain Gorillas is that they mainly live in forests at higher elevations in that the conditions affect the distribution and availability of food. They live in the mountaineous areas of the Virunga and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. This is not common with the Lowland Gorillas which live in relatively low lands. The lowland gorillas feed on fruits, seeds, plants stems and leaves and are said to travel longer distances in search for food.
3. Mountain Gorillas’ hair is shinny black and longer if compared to that of the Lowland Gorillas which is shorter with thicker coats.
4. The Lowland Gorillas can survive in the zoo while as the Mountain Gorillas can’t. This is because of their lifestyle differences in that unlike the mountain Gorillas, the lowland gorillas need less of the forest to survive.
5. Some scientists have noted that the Uganda’s Bwindi gorillas somehow resemble the Lowland Gorillas. However, these Bwindi Gorillas still live in mountainous terrain and one of the reasons is that; their habitat’s altitude is lower and therefore they eat more fruits than the mountain Gorillas.
6. Another difference is that mountain Gorillas have shorter limbs and are slightly larger than the Lowland Gorillas. These short limbs and a large body size help them to absorb and conserve heat in colder climates.
Facts about Lowland Gorillas
Lowland gorillas travel within a home range of 3-17 square kilometers and this is done following a certain seasonal pattern while searching for food and water.
Lowland gorillas (females) produce few offsprings due to the fact that they don’t reach sexual maturity till the age of 9 years. Just like human beings, a female lowland gorilla spends nine months while pregnant and it gives birth to a tiny newborn which weighs about 4 pounds.
Basing on a study which was carried out on over 300 female lowland gorillas, it indicated that older females tend to give birth to more male off springs compared to those below the age of 8 years.
Female lowland gorillas that live in groups dominated by male gorillas tend to display sexual behavior at all their reproductive stages.
Lowland gorillas mainly live in rain forests, bush, swamp forest, vegetation, riverine forests, abandoned farming fields, clearing and forest edges.
When it comes to diet, Lowland Gorillas are basically herbivores and eat roots, fruits, shoots, wild celery, pulp and tree bark. Their diet is the main reason why they live in tropical forests where they can easily et the food.
Facts about Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas live in the Albertine Rift montane forests and the Virunga Volcanoes. They love staying in highlands of altitude from 2,200 to 4,500 meters. Most of the mountain gorillas are found in Rwanda (dormant volvanoes of Karisimbi, Visoke and Mikeno), Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park) and some few in Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mountain gorillas are herbivores and mainly feed on leaves, stems and shoots of over 150 plant species. They also feed on flowers, roots, bark and fruits .A male mountain gorilla eats about 35kgs of vegetables while the female eats up to 18kgs,a day.
Mountain gorillas are known to be aggressive, strong and powerful but are also shy and gentle. The aggressiveness of these gorillas can be witnessed when 2 silver-backs from different groups meet. They can fight each other to death.
If you want to see mountain gorillas, go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda which are the best destinations for the seeing these great apes.