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Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas, The Top 8 Differences
Curious about Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas or you want to compare the size of a lowland gorilla vs mountain gorilla? Learn their distinct characteristics including behavior, diet, size and habitat.
For those interested in gorilla conservation, it’s important to recognize the differences between Mountain Gorillas and Lowland Gorillas. Learn about the threats that each species face, and how you can contribute to their conservation efforts.
If you came across Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas at the same time while on your gorilla safari, higher chances are that you won’t easily differentiate the 2 apes especially for first time trekkers.
Mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas are 2 distinct primate species sharing about 98.3 percent of their genetic DNA with humans thus making them our closest relatives after chimpanzees and the bonobos.
Lets dive into the definitive differences of Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas;
Comparing Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas;
Physical Characteristics of Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas:
Mountain gorillas are bigger with longer darker hair and shorter arms than the lowland gorillas. Their (mountain gorillas) bodies are made in such away that they adapted to their habitat. They range in mountainous areas with freezing temperatures. Lowland gorillas live in much warmer areas and do not require such thick fur.
In addition, mountain gorillas are typically heavier with an average mountain gorilla weighing about 200kg (440 pounds) compared to an average lowland gorilla that weigh about 150kg (330 pounds).
Mountain gorillas have larger nose, jaw and bigger teeth compared to lowland gorillas.
Social life of Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas
Both mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas live in groups or families of about 30 members.
Mountain gorillas live in a groups of 5 to 25 members usually led by a silverback, dominant male mountain gorilla vs lowland gorillas (western lowland gorillas) can live in a family of about 4 to 8 members. Although, lowland gorillas can live in larger groups, averaging more than 50 members with multiple silverbacks leading different families.
The social life of mountain gorillas is slightly different from their lowland counterparts, characterized by frequent interactions among group members. Lowland gorilla families are found to be much more dispersed and to travel less than mountain gorilla ones that mostly stick together with minimal individual activity.
Mountain gorillas are known to emit a strong odor from their glands under the arms mostly when they are stressed and lowland gorillas studies indicate that their scent communication doesn’t play a big role considering their culture in the wild.
Additionally, mountain gorillas groom each other for about 15 minutes every day whereas lowland gorillas don’t interact as often and so have much less wing grooming behavior.
Generally, gorillas are intelligent creatures with impressive communication abilities displaying about 25 distinct sounds; they use tools like chimpanzees do to perform different tasks.
Comparing the Habitat of Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas
Mountain gorillas inhabit the mountains at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet and can only be found in 3 countries; Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lowland gorillas on the other hand live on the edges of rainforests and swamplands occasionally foraging for food on adjacent savannah grasslands. They can be found in D.R. Congo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Gabon and Angola.
Mountain gorillas have adapted to harsher climate conditions as they stay in higher elevation zones which are usually cooler than their lowland counterparts. However, Lowland gorillas have been able to live in capture and can easily be relocated.
What is the Diet of Mountain Gorillas vs Lowland Gorillas?
Generally, gorillas are herbivores however; the western lowland gorillas depend on vines, stems, leaves, roots and about 100 distinct kinds of fruits. Occasionally, they feed on insects and some small reptiles. The mountain gorillas feed strictly on plant material like shoots, stems, flowers, tree barks, and leaves
Mountain gorillas have been also observed eating certain types of insects particularly in areas where there is limited foliage to eat.
All in all, they both feed on the same items only differentiated by the habitat as the lowland gorillas have got more food options compared to mountain gorillas.
Generally, there are 2 major gorilla species which tourists on Africa Safari usually look out for and they include the eastern gorilla scientifically known as gorilla beringei and the western gorilla also popular as gorilla gorilla.
The 2 species are further broken into 2 sub-species of gorillas. For trekkers who have been on gorilla trekking safari, you realize these apes have a lot in common.
The Eastern Gorilla
The Eastern gorilla is comprised of 2 gorilla sub-species; the Eastern Lowland gorilla and scientifically, these are best referred to as Gorilla beringei graueri. Presently, they are the largest of all the species of gorillas and they exist only in the lowland rain-forests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Where to see the Eastern lowland gorillas?
Visitors on gorilla trekking safari can trek the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in Eastern DRC however, a section of these unique apes also exist in Maiko National Park still in the DR Congo. The Eastern lowland gorillas are listed on the IUCN red list as critically endangered species.
Tracking to see these primates in the wild is such a life changing experience any enthusiastic primate lover needs not to miss on gorilla safari in the DR Congo.
You require a valid gorilla permit to track the eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, each costing US Dollars 450.
Mountain gorillas are a sub-species of the Eastern gorilla and scientifically, they are referred to as Gorilla beringei beringei. Currently, these rare apes remain fewer than 1063 worldwide.
They range around the montane forests in Southwestern Uganda that is only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Northwestern Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park and the Virunga National Park in the Eastern side of the D.R. Congo.
An hour with a habituated family of mountain gorillas in the wild is of no doubt a life time experience. Majority of visitors on gorilla trekking safari in Africa come to see mountain gorillas.
In Uganda alone, over half of all the 1063 mountain gorillas thrive in Bwindi and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park making it an exceptional mountain gorilla trekking safari destination. Rwanda and DRC share the remaining portion.
Tourists on Uganda gorilla safari can trek anyone of the 21 habituated gorilla group families, 20 of which can be tracked in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In Bwindi, gorilla treks are carried out in the 4 main gorilla trekking regions; Buhoma sector in the North, Ruhija in the East and Rushaga and Nkuringo sectors in the south.
In case you have a plan to trek mountain gorillas in Uganda, gorilla permits are issued out at 700 US Dollars if you are foreign non-resident, US Dollars 700 for foreign residents and Uganda shillings 250000 for citizens in East Africa Community member states.
On Uganda gorilla safari, you can also incorporate your gorilla trekking adventure with mountain gorilla habituation experience which is offered only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with habituation permits issued at $1500.
Visitors on gorilla trekking safari in Uganda can secure their gorilla permits for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park through a reliable tour operator and for this case, Afrik-Trek Holidays Ltd is one of the best and recognized tour operators in Uganda you can get in touch not only to help you book your gorilla permit but also we go further plan a memorable gorilla safari holiday for you.
The other option is booking your permit through a reservation team at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), an organ that is in charge wildlife conservation and protection in and outside protected areas of Uganda whose headquarter is based in Kampala.
The Western Lowland Gorillas
The western gorilla (gorilla gorilla gorilla) is composed of the Cross River gorilla and western lowland gorilla, 2 sub-species that thrive mainly in Central African states like Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cameroon. Presently, the western lowland gorillas remain about 100000 to 200000. The Cross River gorillas are fewer than 300 in number and they exist in Nigeria and Cameroon.
Mountain gorillas are found in high elevation of between 1500 and 4000m whereas the lowland gorillas range in the lowland rain-forests at altitude of between 2200 and 4300m. Unlike the lowland gorillas, mountain gorillas only survive in the wild and not in the zoos.
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Mountain Gorilla vs Lowland Gorilla size.
The mountain gorilla is the biggest primate and can weigh up to 220kgs (485 pounds) where as the lowland gorilla can weigh only up to 180kgs (396 pounds), that is about 50kgs less.
They are the Western Lowland Gorillas, Eastern Lowland Gorillas and the mountain Gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas can be found in the Virunga massif; Volcanoes National Park Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park Uganda, and Virunga National park Congo plus Bwindi Impenetrable National park o Uganda.