Name: Gorillla beringei grauri
Number Remaining: Fewer than 5,000
Where they live: Democratic Republic of Congo
Eastern lowland gorillas are the largest subspecies of gorilla, and adult males can reach up to 250kg (39st 5lb), making them the world’s largest primate. They are similar to mountain gorillas but can be distinguished by shorter fur, narrower faces and rounder nostrils.
Eastern lowland gorillas, in common with other subspecies of gorilla, are largely herbivorous but have been observed eating ants and other insects. They live in family groups led by the dominant male silverback, and during the day spend their time feeding and resting. Gorillas build new nests to sleep in every night.
Status: Endangered (IUCN Red List: A4abcd version 3.1)
Population: Kahuzi-Biega National Park and neighbouring Kasese region, Maiko National Park, Itombwe forest and North Kivu, all in eastern DR Congo
Main Threats: Poaching, civil unrest, extractive industries (mining, logging, illegal charcoal trade), lack of legal habitat protection
Eastern lowland gorillas are only found in DR Congo, a country plagued by continued conflict. Like mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas are threatened by habitat loss, but the illegal trade in charcoal and mining in DRC, combined with a lack of legal protection for their habitat are putting even greater pressure on the gorillas.
Mount Tshiaberimu gorillas
In 1996 a small isolated population of gorillas was found living at Mount Tshiaberimu, a small isolated annex in the northern region of the Virunga National Park. The population was facing imminent extinction, threatened by activities such as mining, hunting and the collection of firewood. In rapid decline and ignored by many, the Gorilla Organization pledged to protect this tiny group of gorillas and the habitat.
The Mt Tshiaberimu gorillas are morphologically different to the Eastern Lowland gorillas found elsewhere and may yet be reclassified as a distinct subspecies, Gorilla beringei rex-pygmaeorum. They are currently officially classified as Gorilla beringei graueri.