Gorillas are large primates that can weigh up to 500 lbs. They spend most of their lives at ground level rather than in the trees like most other primates. Gorillas are indigenous to Africa and only exist elsewhere in captivity. There are at least five different gorilla ecosystems, depending on geographical location.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Ecosystem
Eastern lowland gorillas are endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, Red List. These gorillas live only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been in turmoil due to its own conflicts and an influx of refugees from neighboring countries, such as Sudan and Rwanda. Eastern lowland gorillas live along the Albertine Rift Valley in the east. Their ecosystem and subspecies is threatened by the human conflict, hunting and by habitat destruction.
The habitat of eastern lowland gorillas is part of the ecosystem of the Congo River Basin. Seventy percent of Africa's flora distribution is in the Congo Basin. There are more than 600 species of trees in the area. There are also roughly 10,000 animal species. (Ref. 4)
Mountain Gorilla Ecosystem
Mountain gorillas, or eastern gorillas, live in the Virunga Mountain Range, which consists of volcanoes. Their habitat is in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. The highland cloud forests of the range and sometimes the highland meadows are where they live. Not only are mountain gorillas extremely endangered due to poaching and habitat destruction, but their flora and fauna rich ecosystem is as well. Cloud forests around the world are in danger due to climate change and deforestation.
Cross River Gorilla Ecosystem
There are fewer Cross River gorillas than any other gorilla subspecies -- between 300 and 400. They live in Nigeria and Cameroon on the border of both countries. Cross River gorillas dwell primarily in mountain forests. The ecosystems of every community of Cross River gorillas are at risk of deforestation and hunting. Removal of the forests that these few gorillas live in would eliminate their food supplies.
Western Lowland Gorilla Ecosystem
Western lowland gorillas have the most widespread habitat of all the gorilla species. They exist in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. They also may live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that is unclear. Western lowland gorillas are part of the tropical forest ecosystems of these countries. Like all rainforests, these ecosystems have abundant plant life, which is the sole source of food for these gorillas. There are no predators in these ecosystems, apart from humans, that hunt and feed on western lowland gorillas, or any other gorilla ecosystems.
- Primate Info Net: Gorilla
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Gorilla
- World Wildlife Fund: Eastern Lowland Gorilla
- MongoBay.com: The Congo
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology; Gorilla Beringei; Tracy Lindsley, et al.
- Lewis and Clark Law School; A World Heritage Species Case Study: Cross River Gorillas; Tami Santelli; July 2005
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images