The scientific name for the western gorilla is easy to remember: gorilla gorilla. There are two species of western gorilla: gorilla gorilla gorilla, commonly known as the western lowland gorilla, and gorilla gorilla diehli, also known as the Cross River gorilla. The western gorilla is native to parts of Africa which include Cameroon, Nigeria, Angola, and Republic of Congo, with the Cross River gorilla inhabiting a limited area by the border between Cameroon and Nigeria.
A western gorilla is an omnivore. Vegetation such as bamboo shoots, fruits, leaves, flowers, and herbs form the bulk of its diet, though the western gorilla also eats insects. Fruit is the main staple of the western lowland gorilla, and it must travel to acquire fruit in season, so that species of western gorilla has a much wider range than its Cross River cousins. The western lowland gorilla is also the smallest type of gorilla, with the largest males achieving a weight of around 400 pounds (182 kilograms) and a height of 5.5 feet (1.7 meters).
Western gorillas live in social groups consisting of both genders. These groups are led by an alpha male commonly referred to as a silverback because of the prominent, shiny gray fur on his back. The western gorilla isn’t territorial and its range may bring it into contact with other groups of gorillas that is generally peaceful.
Females give birth to a single infant after a gestation period of around 9 months. Although gorillas are the largest primates, a classification that includes man, a newborn western gorilla is generally smaller than a human infant, only weighing an average of 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms). Multiple births are rare. Newborn gorillas are completely helpless, and the mothers carry them until the infants are able to hold onto the mother’s body.
Gorilla mothers usually don’t reproduce more than once every four years, since they devote that much time to raising each of their offspring. The females are responsible for all of the care and feeding of the young gorillas, while the males protect them from predators. These predators can include other male gorillas from outside the group who sometimes attack the young.
They are capable of using tools. This is commonly seen when they are obtaining food. They have been observed using rocks to crush nutshells and sticks to dig or pry out other sources of food.
Western gorillas are more agile than the two species of eastern gorillas. They are considered a critically endangered species. The Cross River gorilla is close to extinction with fewer than 300 left.