Eastern lowland gorilla
Eastern lowland gorilla, Grauer's gorilla; Gorille oriental de la plaine, gorille de Grauer (Fr); Gorila (Sp)
Gorilla beringei graueri
Tropical rainforest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Unknown; may have reached 17,000 at one time
Compared to the other eastern gorilla subspecies, the mountain gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla has shorter hair and teeth, and longer arms.
The eastern lowland gorilla occurs in the lowland and Albertine Rift montane forests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Until the mid-1990s, the population was thought to number around 17,000 individuals.
Current population & distribution
There are currently no reliable population estimates due to lack of census data in remote regions, as well as the unknown impact of decades of civil conflict in eastern DRC.
The subspecies' stronghold is Kahuzi-Biega National Park, where it is threatened by bushmeat hunters and human encroachment.
Numbers have declined by 80-90% in the last 5 years, largely due to increased poaching in the park.Its strongold is Kahuzi Biega National Park,
The geographic range of the subspecies covers 12,000 km², down from 21,000 km² in 1963. Data suggests that eastern lowland gorillas occupy only 13% of their former geographic range.
There are few protected areas within the eastern lowland gorilla's range. Due to civil unrest (see below), its stronghold, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, is under severe threat from poachers and encroachment, and it has been very difficult for park guards to patrol borders in this region.
People have moved into the park in order to mine coltan, an alloy used for mobile phones. This has also resulted in forests being cleared for farming.
Conflict & instability
Civil conflict and political instability have left the Congolese National Parks network in a state of dereliction, hampering the effective conservation of the eastern lowland gorialla.
Hunting and trade
The trade in bushmeat, which occurs over much of the eastern lowland gorilla's range, may now be more of a threat than habitat loss and degradation, but the number of gorillas killed annually is unknown. The influx of people into Kahuzi-Biega National Park has also resulted in an increase in bushmeat hunting.
Gorillas are also sought after as food and pets, and their body parts are used in medicine and as magical charms.
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Northeastern Congo Basin Moist Forests
Efforts to protect the eastern lowland gorilla are challenging after years of warfare and civil unrest. Our work includes:
- Reducing the threat of poaching and human encroachment in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. We are helping to fund and equip anti-poaching patrols of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN), which are now able to protect parts of the park previously affected by illegal mining and poaching. Park staff are also monitoring more than 80 gorillas belonging to 7 family groups.
- Helping to develop a management plan for the Itombwe Massif, a currently unprotected area south of Kahuzi-Biega, which is thought to have a sizable population of eastern lowland gorillas.
» WWF African Great Apes Programme
» More on work in the Congo Basin
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