The eastern lowland gorilla—also known as Grauer’s gorilla—is the largest of the four gorilla subspecies. It is distinguished from other gorillas by its stocky body, large hands and short muzzle. Despite its size, eastern lowland gorillas subsist mainly on fruit and other herbaceous materials, just like other gorilla subspecies.
The eastern lowland gorilla or Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) is a subspecies of eastern gorilla endemic to the mountainous forests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Important populations of this gorilla live in the Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks and their adjacent forests, the Tayna Gorilla Reserve, the Usala forest and on the Itombwe Massif.
Gorillas spend long hours feeding on plant matter every day. Groups are stable apes as they stay together for months and years at a time, much like the structure of a family. In comparison to the Western Gorillas, groups of eastern lowland gorillas are usually larger.
Eastern lowland gorilla has the widest altitudinal range of any of the gorilla subspecies as they can be found in mountainous, transitional and lowland tropical forests. One of the most studied eastern lowland gorilla population lives in the highlands of Kahuzi-Biega where habitats vary between dense primary forests to moderately moist woodland, to Cyperus swamp and peat bog.
Gorillas do not eat banana fruits, but they may destroy banana trees to eat the nutritious pith. Farmers who have come in contact with gorillas in their plantations have killed the gorilla and obtained a double benefit, protecting their crop and using the meat of the gorilla to sell at the market.
Eastern lowland gorilla has a varied plants diet including fruits, leaves, stems and bark as well as small insects such as ants and termites. Although they occasionally eat ants, insects form only a minor part of their diet. In comparison to western lowland gorillas, found in low altitude tropical forests.
The eastern lowland gorilla makes its home in lowland tropical rain forests in the eastern DRC. In the last 50 years, its range has decreased from 8,100 square miles—about the size of the state of Massachusetts— to about 4,600 square miles today. This subspecies may now occupy only 13% of its historical range. There were nearly 17,000 eastern lowland gorillas in the mid-1990s but scientists estimate that the population has declined by more than 50% since then. An accurate accounting of the animals has been impossible for many years because of violence in the region.
Throughout the unrest, the gorillas have been vulnerable to poaching, even in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, home to the largest population of protected eastern lowland gorillas. Rebels and poachers invaded the park and people set up illegal mines. Check about the Congo gorilla trekking adventure