Discovering Africa’s Gorillas: Species, Characteristics, and Where to Find Them

Africa, with its vast landscapes and diverse ecosystems, is home to some of the world’s most fascinating wildlife. Among its most iconic inhabitants are the gorillas, majestic primates that have captured the imagination of many. If you’re considering a safari to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, here’s a comprehensive guide to the different species of gorillas found in Africa, their unique characteristics, and where you can find them. There are 2 species of gorilla—Eastern and Western—separated by the vast Congo River basin, both have 2 subspecies.

Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei)

Photo Credit: Susan Kottemann

Characteristics:

Mountain gorillas are the most recognized, partly due to the research done by primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey. They have longer, darker hair compared to their lowland cousins, an adaptation to the colder mountainous habitat. More tourists visit the mountain gorilla than any other type.

Location:

Mountain gorillas are found in two main regions in Africa: the Virunga Mountains, which span across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

Eastern Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri)

Photo 64844759 | Western Lowland Gorilla © Sergey Uryadnikov | Dreamstime.com

Characteristics:

Also known as Grauer’s gorillas, they more numerous than the mountain gorilla. They have a stocky body, large hands, and a short muzzle, distinguishing them from their mountain counterparts.

Location:

Eastern lowland gorillas are native to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, primarily in the Maiko National Park, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, and the Itombwe Massif.

Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

Characteristics:

These gorillas have shorter hair and a slightly lighter color compared to the mountain gorillas. They also have a broader skull. Western lowland gorillas are known for their strong family bonds and intricate social structures. Western lowland gorillas are the subspecies seen in most zoos.

Location:

They inhabit the dense rainforests of central and West Africa, primarily in countries like Gabon, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo.

Cross River Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli)

Characteristics:

The most endangered of all gorilla subspecies, Cross River gorillas have distinct facial features with a small palate, short skull, and deep-set eye sockets.

Location:

They are found in a region around the border between Nigeria and Cameroon, in both the Cross River State and the Takamanda National Park respectively.


Conclusion:

Witnessing gorillas in their natural habitat is an experience like no other. Their sheer size, combined with their gentle nature and intricate social behaviors, makes them one of the most captivating creatures on the planet. Whether you’re drawn to the misty mountains of Uganda or the dense rainforests of the Congo, there’s a gorilla species waiting to be discovered.

If you’re ready to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, I’m here to guide you every step of the way. With extensive knowledge and a genuine passion for these magnificent primates, I promise to organize a safari that will leave an indelible mark on your heart. Don’t just dream of this incredible encounter; let’s make it a reality. Contact me today, and together, we’ll craft a gorilla trekking experience that you’ll cherish forever.