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Western Gorilla

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Western gorilla - Gorilla gorilla

Western gorilla - Gorilla gorilla

Photo © Mila Zinkova / Wikipedia.
Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) are a critically endangered species of gorilla that inhabits a small range in western equatorial Africa. Conservationists estimate that only about 95,000 western gorillas that remain in the wild.

Wesetern gorillas live in social groups that consist of a dominant male (also called a silverback) several females and their young. These social groups usually include between 2 and 20 individuals. Young gorillas, both male and female, usually leave their natal groups to join other groups when they mature. Occasionally, some gorillas remain with their natal group as subordinate members.

Silverbacks are dominant adult male gorillas that lead a group of gorillas. Their name comes from the patch of silver hair that grows on their back when they reach maturity. Subordinate males within a group are called blackbacks.

The dominant silverback in a gorilla group commands much of the attention of group members. The silverback selects foraging sites and protects the group from intruders.

Western gorillas are among the largest of all primates although they are slightly smaller than their cousins the eastern gorillas. They have no tail, a short snout, large nostrils and a prominant brow ridge. They have small eyes and ears.

Diet:

Western gorillas are hebivores. They feed on the stems of plants and also sometimes eat leaves, berries and bark.

Size and Weight:

About 400 pounds and 5 feet tall

Habitat:

Lowlands and tropical forests in western equatorial Africal. Their range includes Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Republic of Congo.

Reproduction:

Western gorillas reproduce sexually. They are polygynous and breed year-round. One dominant male typically mates with the females within its group. Females give birth to live young after a gestation period of 9 months.

Females are sexually mature at about 10 years of age, males at 15 years of age. Females provide all of the direct care for the young such as feeding and social interaction. Males provide indirect care by protecting the group from outside threats. Such protection is significant to the survival of the young within the group. Rival males from outside a group often attempt to attack and kill infants within a group.

Classification:

Western gorillas are divided into two subspecies, the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli). Western gorillas are one of two species of gorillas, the other being the slightly larger eastern gorilla. Like all gorillas, western gorillas are great apes, a group that also includes chimpanzees, orangutans and humans.

Evolution:

Western gorillas diverged from eastern gorillas between 900,000 and 1,600,000 million years ago. The closest living relatives to the two gorilla species are chimpanzees and humans. All members of the Hominidae diverged from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago.
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