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Mountain and lowland gorilla difference

Can you differentiate between a mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas?

The mountain gorillas are the largest world living primates. The gorillas survive in two different species of eastern and western gorilla with each having two other sub species. Eastern lowland and mountain gorilla are sub species of the eastern gorilla. Western lowland gorilla and Cross River gorilla are subspecies of the western gorilla.

The difference in the gorilla names

The mountain gorilla is scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringei whereas the lowland gorilla is known as Gorilla gorilla. So, this is where the difference starts.

Mountain and lowland gorilla structure

From their names there is slight difference in their physical structure. Mountain gorillas have shorter arms, larger teeth, nose and jaw unlike with the lowland gorillas. These can only be witnessed when one opts for a Uganda gorilla safari or Rwanda gorilla trekking safari and a Congo gorilla safari for comparison.

The mountain gorilla is larger, with longer hair and shorter arms compared to the lowland gorillas. Mountain gorillas darkly colored with much thicker longer fur whereas the lowland gorillas have lighter and shorter hair.

Fur on the mountain gorillas is longer and shaggier compared to the fur of lowland gorillas which is much shorter and softer.

Elderly mountain gorillas maintain their silver fur while the elderly male lowland gorillas often lose the gray hair on their back and hips.

Mountain gorillas in the wild
Mountain gorillas in the wild

Gorilla habitats

Still from their naming, the gorillas live in different habitats.  The mountain gorillas live in high altitudes of about 8000 – 13,000ft (1,500m-4000m) surviving in freezing temperatures while the lowland gorillas live in lower altitude tropical forest.

In East Africa, mountain gorillas are found in 3 national parks of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda and Volcanoes national park in Rwanda. In Congo the mountain gorillas are found in Virunga national park and the lowland gorillas are found in kahuzi Biega national park.

The mountain gorillas live in thick forested lands whereas lowland gorillas live in forested lowland habitats.

The lowland gorillas are existent in the countries of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, and Cameroon. The mountain gorillas are on the other hand only found in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. This is why only a gorilla safari Uganda or Rwanda gorilla tour with a Congo gorilla trekking safari make the comparison possible.

The mountain gorillas predominantly live in the wild within the dormant volcanic mountains. On the other side, most of the lowland Gorillas are found in the zoos around the world. A tourist will have to trek the mountain gorillas in the wild and the western gorillas can be found in their habitat.

Lowland gorilla
Lowland gorilla

Gorilla Size

Eastern lowland gorillas (180kg) are the largest subspecies of gorillas and the largest living primates. The mountain gorillas(150kg) come next and the western lowland gorillas are the smallest, but still have an exceptional size.

The maximum standing height for eastern lowland males is 1.7 meters (5.6 ft), mountain gorillas stand at 1.2–1.8 meters (4–6 ft) tall. The females weigh half the weight of the males, about 90kg (200Ib).


Difference in Gorilla feeding

All gorillas are herbivores. Mountain gorilla feeding is more strictly based on plant material such as leaves, shoots, stems, flowers and bark from the trees.

Western lowland gorillas on top of plant material add fruits, Insects and small reptiles to their diet. The lowland gorilla will commonly be seen high up in the trees stripping tree barks and leaves for food.

Gorilla Social life

All gorillas are social in nature and live in groups also known as families. Mountain and eastern lowland gorillas live in large groups of up to 30-40 members.

Western lowland gorillas live in smaller groups of 4 to 8 member. Even with small groups, they still don’t live in single lives.

Just like other wild animals that are social, East Africa has numerous wildlife encountered during a Kenya wildlife safari or on a wildlife safari in Tanzania just adjacent to Uganda and Rwanda.

There is nothing so amazing like meeting the largest primate and look into its calm eyes. Plan a gorilla safari to meet these beauties of the wild.

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