Western Lowland Gorrillas
Submitted By taraanne
Western Lowland Gorillas By Tara Ventres Axia Collage of University of Phoenix SCI/230 Introduction to Life Science JoAnne Massi October 23, 2009
Introduction: When I was around 14, I saw one of the best movies. The movie was Gorillas in The Mist, starting Sigourney Weaver as Dian Fossey. It was one of the most impressive movies of my life. My step-mother at the time notice how must I liked the movie and game me her very well torn copy of Gorillas in the Mist to read. I still have that book and since the first time I read it, I have been fascinated with these great apes. This is way I believe they deserve funding to help them off of the endangered species list.
Western Lowland Gorillas: The scientific name for gorilla is Gorilla gorilla gorilla. (Comos, 2008) The word gorilla is derived from ancient Greek language meaning a tribe of hairy women. In Greek the word is pronounced Gorillia. Hanno the Navigator, a Carthaginian navigator was believed to be a visitor to the area that is now Sierra Leone. Hanno descried the gorillas as a tribe of hairy women. The gorillas can be found today in places like Southern Cameroon, Southwest corner of Central Africa Republic, West Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and south to the Cabinda enclaves of Angola. A group of gorillas would be called a troop, and the space that they travel is called a range. Each gorilla is indentified by the lines on their noses. These lines can be compared similar to human finger prints, no two are alike. (Western Lowland Gorillas Profile, n.d)
By nature most gorillas are terrestrial. The gorilla's large size requires the animals to spend long hours feeding for their daily diet needs. Gorillas tend to show the most stable grouping patterns. A group of adult gorillas will travel together for months and evens years at a time. A gorilla’s main diet consists of foliage and allows them to travel in permanent groups. Foliage, unlike fruit comes in large patches, which can support large groups of animals. (Csomos, 2008)
However, in west Africa, where fruits tend to makes up the majority of the gorilla's diet compared to those that live in east Africa. Groups of gorillas living in west Africa normally split into temporary feeding subgroups but are less common in east Africa, as animals range far apart searching for the relatively scarce ripe fruit. There are some reports of sleeping subgroups however, they are rare. This may occur in the process of permanent splitting of a multi-male groups into two single male groups. Groups usually can range from 5 to 10 individuals, but some groups can accumulate as many as 20 to 32 animals. (Csomos, 2008)
Habitat: The habitat of the Western Lowland Gorilla is made up of primarily rainforests, swamp forest, thickets, forest edges, and clearings. Western Gorillas have been seen nesting in along the Savannah forest edge or in the Savannah itself. Although they visit the Savannah, it is not a permanent habitat for them. Western Gorillas inhabit areas that are typically lowland tropical forest at sea-level and up to 1,300 mm. (Beudels-Jamer, 2008) This inhabitance seems to correlate with areas that contain large amounts of terrestrial herbaceous venation, areas that particularly contain ginger and palm. The average rain fall for this area is around 1,500 mm between August and November. The rain begins to diminish in December and continues until March. Western Gorillas tend to stay away from humans, avoiding human settlements, utilized roads, and plantations. Western Gorillas favor areas that are rich with edible herbs. (Beudels-Jamer, 2008)
Gorillas are mainly herbivorous, with the exception of insects like termites and ants. The availability of food affects the gorilla’s diet and foraging behavior. High quality herbs rich in proteins and minerals are patchily distributed outside swamp forest areas. Fruits are relatively available. When fruit is abundant the gorillas will make fruits their main ingredient of their diet. High quality herbs are eaten all year round, while low quality herbs are only eaten when fruit is unavailable. An adult male can eat up to 200 pounds of vegetation a day. Leaves and woody vegetation are consumed during the dry season, when fruits are not available. When fruits are available, the gorillas have longer day ranges and when the gorillas rely on leaves and woody vegetation they have shorter day ranges. (Beudels-Jamer, 2008)
Other Life Forms and Interrelations: In this region of the world, the gorillas live among many rare species in the world. Some of these species included the common chimpanzee, the bonobo, the forest elephant, okapi, white rhino, and other type of gorillas, such as the mountain gorilla. The leopard (which is rare) and Humans are the gorillas only known predators. Gorillas are normally quiet, shy, and non-aggressive by nature. There is very little conflict between other species or other gorilla troops, even when territories are over lapped. Only when the gorillas feel threatened do the males in the troop become aggressive. An adult male will perform elaborate displays of tearing up vegetation, running sideways, chest beating, and charging in order to “scare off” an intruder. (Beudels-Jamer, 2008)
Human Intrusions: Humans are the gorilla’s greatest threat. Human intrusions of the gorilla’s habitats have caused a decline of the species. The three main threats that humans pose, commercial hunting, logging of the forest (which has increased poaching) and Human illnesses like the Ebola virus. According to studies recent annual rate of decline in the gorillas was 4.7 percent and mortality rates caused by the Ebola virus were as high as 80 percent. The gorillas DNA is 98 percent the same has humans. Any flu or virus a human can carry or transmit the gorillas can catch. Since they live away from humans, any virus or flu can be deadly to them. The gorilla’s immune system does not have the ability to defend against any virus or flu that has been transmitted from humans. (Cosmos, 2008)
Current Safeguards and Protections: The protection and conservation status of the gorilla varies throughout Africa. Establishing National Parks and enforcing anti-poaching laws have been the best lines for defending the gorillas. Since the gorillas are widely affected by outbreaks of Ebola, National Forest Parks have helped to protect against human settlements, logging, restrictions against hunting, and poaching of the species. (Western Lowland Gorillas, n.d) Other efforts, which can help further the preservation of gorillas, are education and regulations of gorilla tourism. In other parts of the world control and knowledge of gorilla tourism, regarding group sizes, health of the tourist, visiting hours, and behaviors has led to lower rates of spreading human diseases to the gorillas. Since Human diseases have had the highest morality rates among the gorillas, individuals can help preserve them by making sure they are healthy when touring. (Cosmos, 2008)
Additional Measures: I would suggest an additional measure to help preserve the species by imposing national gorilla rights. Similar to Human rights in the U.S. I believe this will help lessen the exploitation of gorillas in regards to the abduction and selling of gorilla infants to zoos and private pet owners. Not only is the selling of gorillas similar to slavery, but it often results in the killing of their parents. These infants are affected by social separation, poor nutrition, and will most likely die as they are not in their natural environment.
Going Unchecked: The Congo basin has been recognized as a globally important factor in inter-continental weather patterns and for maintaining climate stability. The COMIFAC Convergence and the Congo Basin Forest Partnership have joined forces to protect the whole Congo Basin ecosystem. They will tack the carbon sequestration and storage, rainfall generation and the areas bio-diversity. The Western Lowland Gorillas ecological role must be taken into account. The Western Lowland Gorillas are keystone species in their forest habitats, so their protection is essential to long-term management of the Congo basin. (Cosmos, 2008)
In conclusion the lasting impression of the movie The Gorilla in the Mist has led me to the selection of this endangered species. Among my passion for these gorillas lays the area of concerns of their survival that has been detailed in this paper. I feel as though they are humans closest living relatives and should be preserved. Only though education and protection will these gorillas survive in the future.
Beudels-Jamer, R. (2008) Western Lowland Gorilla. Retriever on September 25, 2009 from www.yog2009.org
Csomos, Rebecca (2008) Gorilla gorilla, Animal Diversity web. Retrieved on September 25, 2009 from www.animaldiversity.unnz.unnz.edu
Western Lowland Gorilla Profile, (na) (nd) Retrieved on September 25, 2009 from www.animal.nationalgeographic.com