Eastern Gorilla or Eastern Lowland Gorilla - Diet, Characteristics and Conservation

Oriental gorilla or the eastern lowland gorilla: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The eastern or lowland gorilla...

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The eastern or eastern lowland gorilla is one of two extant species of these primates, displaying peculiar and beautiful characteristics, many of which are likely associated with their close genetic relationship to humans. These animals have a complex communication system, which they develop through different types of sounds, tactile communications, movements and even chemical communications. Like the other western gorilla species, the eastern gorilla is unfortunately subject to many anthropogenic pressures, which eventually put it on the endangered animal list.

Continue reading this AnimalPlanet fact sheet and discover relevant information on the characteristics, habitat and diet of the eastern lowland gorilla.


  • Africa
  • Congo (Kinshasa)
  • Uganda
  • Rwanda

Characteristics of the Eastern Gorilla

Gorillas, in general, are the largest primates. Males of this particular species weigh on average around 160 kg, with an average length of 185 cm, while females weigh 70 to 114 kg and measure 150 cm, which is an indicator of clear sexual dimorphism.

The coat of these animals is long and silky, with a coloration ranging from blue-black to brownish gray. Males, at about 12 years of age, become so-called silverbacks, due to the presence of a gray coloration of this area, which in some cases is related to the leading position of the band.Another peculiarity of males is the presence of axillary glands, which emit a strong odor in case of stress.

The jaws and teeth of this species are larger than the western species, but the nose and arms are smaller.

Eastern Gorilla Subspecies

The eastern gorilla belongs to the species Gorilla beringei and has two subspecies:

  • Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri)
  • Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

Eastern Gorilla Habitat

The habitat of the species is represented by dense forests, which may include secondary forests in transition to areas of African mountains, in which there are bamboo forests, swamps and bogs. Location altitudes are between 600 and 2900 meters above sea level.Specifically, the mountain species is found in areas between 1,400 and 1,850 meters above sea level, while Grauer's gorilla is found at lower elevations.

The mountain gorilla thrives in various types of vegetation in these mountainous regions, where there are bamboo forests, mixed forests, and grasslands. For its part, the Grauer species, lives on fairly steep slopes of mixed forests where there is thick undergrowth.

Eastern Gorilla Habits

Eastern gorillas live in groups, so they are a social species. A physically fit silverback male will be the leader of the group, which is made up of females and their offspring. The average formation is 10 individuals, but some have been identified with up to 65 members.

Around the age of eight, females separate from their original group to find a family with another solitary male.They can sometimes join an established group, but they prefer to establish their own. Males, on the other hand, separate around the age of 11, but cannot join groups that have already formed.

These animals are generally not territorial, in fact the groups can overlap, but there can be significant clashes, mainly during encounters with a single male.

The species has diurnal habits, and when it wakes up, it begins a long period of feeding, which it then alternates with rest and movement. To sleep at night, they build nests, mostly on the ground or possibly in trees.

Another characteristic aspect of their habits is the grooming between males and females or between one female and another.

Eastern Gorilla Feeding

The eastern gorilla is primarily a folivorous species, but it supplements its diet with other options.In this way, it consumes leaves, roots, stems, gourds, bushes and bamboos. Their diet also includes bark, fungi, flowers, fruits, some invertebrates such as insects and even manure from themselves.

These animals spend about 30% of the daytime feeding.

Reproduction of the eastern gorilla

A male gorilla is ready to reproduce when he is 8 years old, while females have their first period when they are 6 to 7 years old. On average, the first birth will take place around the age of 10. The reproductive cycle is 28 days, with a receptivity period lasting 1-4 days.

The dominant male can reproduce exclusively with all the females of the group formed. The species has a low reproductive rate, as a female will give birth to a maximum of 6 young in her lifetime.

When a female is ovulating, she will court the male, indicating her availability with certain movements.After the act, she will have a pregnancy of about eight and a half months, which will give birth to a single baby. He will be weaned around the age of three, when he will no longer be on his mother's back. The little one will remain in the group for several years.

Eastern Gorilla Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared the eastern gorilla critically endangered. Several causes have led it to its current state. On the one hand, hunting for their meat is the main threat to the species, especially Grauer's gorillas. The high population growth, armed groups and miners in the region are putting increasing pressure on the gorillas. For this they kill the mothers and eat them, usually the babies die without care or are also eaten.

On the other hand, habitat modification for agriculture and resource extraction has a strong impact on these forests, which undoubtedly directly affects animal development.

Mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, natural areas have been invaded by armed groups, who engage in some illegal trade in resources, including the killing of gorillas, facilitated by the weapons at their disposal.

Another aspect that has affected these populations is the spread of certain human-borne diseases, such as respiratory and herpes viruses, which have proven fatal for some individuals as a result of contact between gorillas and visitors to the area.

Finally, climate change is expected to alter rainfall patterns in these ecosystems, which will undoubtedly lead to significant changes in the availability of food and living space for these gorillas.

Pictures of Eastern Gorilla or Eastern Lowland Gorilla

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