Range and habitat

Gorillas have a patchy distribution. The range of the two species is separated by the Congo River and its tributaries. The western gorilla lives in west central Africa, while the eastern gorilla lives in east central Africa. Between the species and even within the species, gorillas live in a variety of habitats and elevations. Gorilla habitat ranges from montane forests to swamps. Eastern gorillas inhabit montane and sub montane forests between 650 and 4000 m (2132-13,123 ft) above sea level. Mountain gorillas live in the montane forests at the higher ends of the elevation range, while eastern lowland gorillas live in sub montane forests at the lower ends of the elevation range. In addition, eastern lowland gorillas live in montane bamboo forests, as well as lowland forests ranging from 600–3308 m (1969-10,853 ft) in elevation. Western gorillas live in both lowland swamp forests and montane forests, and elevations ranging from sea level to 1600 m (5249 ft). Western lowland gorillas live in swamp and lowland forests ranging up to 1600 m (5249 ft), and Cross River gorillas live in low-lying and sub montane forests ranging from 150–1600 m (492–5249 ft).

Food and foraging

A gorilla’s day is synchronized, divided between rest periods and travel or feeding periods. Diets differ between and within species. Mountain gorillas mostly eat foliage, such as leaves, stems, pith, and shoots, while fruit makes up a very small part of their diets. Mountain gorilla food is widely distributed and both individuals and groups do not have to compete with each other. Their home ranges average 3–15 km2 (1.16–5.79 mi2), and their movements range around 500 m (0.311 mi) or less on an average day. Despite eating a few species in each habitat, mountain gorillas have flexible diets and can live in a variety of habitats.

Eastern lowland gorillas have more diverse diets, which vary seasonally. Leaves and pith are commonly eaten, but fruits can make up as much as 25% of their diets. Since fruit is less available, lowland gorillas must travel farther each day, and their home ranges vary from 2.7–6.5 km2 (1.04 to 2.51 mi2), with day ranges 154–2280 m (0.096–1.42 mi). Eastern lowland gorillas will also eat insects, preferably ants. Western lowland gorillas depend on fruits more than the others and they are more dispersed across their range. They travel even further than the other gorilla subspecies, at 1105 m (0.687 mi) per day on average, and have larger home ranges of 7–14 km2 (2.70–5.41 mi2). Western lowland gorillas have less access to terrestrial herbs, although they can access aquatic herbs in some areas.

Gorillas rarely drink water “because they consume succulent vegetation that is comprised of almost half water as well as morning dew”, although both mountain and lowland gorillas have been observed drinking.

One possible predator of gorillas is the leopard. Gorilla remains have been found in leopard scat, but this may be the result of scavenging. When the group is attacked by humans, leopards, or other gorillas, an individual silverback will protect the group, even at the cost of his own life. George Schaller reported, ” Silverback gorilla and a leopard were both found dead from mutually inflicted wounds”.

Range and habitat

Gorillas have a patchy distribution. The range of the two species is separated by the Congo River and its tributaries. The western gorilla lives in west central Africa, while the eastern gorilla lives in east central Africa. Between the species and even within the species, gorillas live in a variety of habitats and elevations. Gorilla habitat ranges from montane forests to swamps. Eastern gorillas inhabit montane and sub montane forests between 650 and 4000 m (2132-13,123 ft) above sea level. Mountain gorillas live in the montane forests at the higher ends of the elevation range, while eastern lowland gorillas live in sub montane forests at the lower ends of the elevation range. In addition, eastern lowland gorillas live in montane bamboo forests, as well as lowland forests ranging from 600–3308 m (1969-10,853 ft) in elevation. Western gorillas live in both lowland swamp forests and montane forests, and elevations ranging from sea level to 1600 m (5249 ft). Western lowland gorillas live in swamp and lowland forests ranging up to 1600 m (5249 ft), and Cross River gorillas live in low-lying and sub montane forests ranging from 150–1600 m (492–5249 ft).