Difference between Lowland and Mountain Gorillas

Currently, tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors that impact positively the world’s economies, and tourism in the African continent is at its greatest development due to abundance of untouched resources, cultural sites, wildlife, natural beauty and others that are uniquely different from the rest of the world. Because of this abundance, Africa continues to offer the best exotic ecotourism, safaris and adventures and the majority of the world’s travelers today travel to the continent for leisure and tourism purposes.

In East Africa, mountain gorilla adventure has caught higher travel demand around the globe especially in the countries of Rwanda and Uganda. Hence mountain gorilla conservation and protection is highly paid attention by environmental and conservation authorities to ensure that the sustainability of the critically endangered species are maintained.

There are two major species of gorillas, the Eastern and the Western gorillas that are attached to other subspecies. The two gorilla species are listed in IUCN Red list of threatened species. The Eastern and the western gorillas are also known as Eastern lowland gorillas or the Western lowland gorillas.

The Eastern lowland gorillas are found in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and it forms the largest population of the four gorilla subspecies. The western lowland gorillas are mainly found in Gabon, Cameroon, Congo republic, Cabinda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Equatorial Guinea.

In this case, the mountain gorillas are a sub species of Gorilla beringei. The rare mountain gorillas are found in Rwanda, Uganda and DRC (the Virunga national park). The mountain gorillas are mainly tracked in the wilderness of the Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Mgahinga National Park and the Virunga National Park. The three countries comprise of the 880 mountain gorillas that are still available in the whole world and the National Parks are situated about 48 kilometers away from each other. Uganda has a half of the total population of the world’s mountain gorillas, with majority in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National park. There is high population increase in the mountain gorilla population today in the most of the national parks due to the natural resource management policies that have been implemented by various conservation authorities of particular countries to protect the endangered species.

Below is the difference between the mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas especially where gorilla tracking is done for both gorilla species as well as other differences that exist between the two gorillas.

Many conservation authorities put strict access to gorillas by the tourists in order to ensure that there is minimal negative impact of human-wildlife conflict on the gorillas and their habitats. Tourists are advised to have better health conditions before setting out for the gorilla tracking with the tour guide.

In this case, the mountain gorillas are best tracked by the tourists in Rwanda and Uganda whereas the lowland gorillas can be tracked in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Uganda, tourist track habituated gorilla families and this can be in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi is UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers maximum protection of to the endangered mountain gorillas and their natural habitat. However, tourists can track mountain gorillas in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. In Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo gorilla tracking is done in the montane cloud forest of the Virunga Volcanoes

Lowland gorilla tracking has variable success because they move fast. The Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (CAR) offer the best opportunity whereby tourists have high chances to track the habituated lowland gorillas.

In Gabon, just at the Gabon’s rainforest forest offers the best view for the lowland gorillas. The tourists also have chance to observe the gorillas as well as the forest elephants, buffalo and others depending on the condition and of the place.

In terms of convenience in gorilla tracking, Uganda and Rwanda still offer convenient mountain gorilla tracking on daily basis for the rest of the year. The weather conditions are favorable for this activity though sometimes conditions tend to be cooler than others.

The mountain gorillas are the largest subspecies of the Eastern gorilla known as Gorilla beringei that live mostly in the wilderness, whose silverback weighs about 220 kilograms. Generally, the mountain gorillas have thick coat hair due to cold climatic conduction in the higher mountains with elevations of aver 2200 meters. The mountain gorillas have large bodies that keep them warm and they live around inactive Volcanoes. In addition, mountain gorillas are communal and social creatures that stay in families. The mountain gorillas are enlisted by IUCN as the critically endangered species with less than 880 individuals surviving in the world and only found in three countries in Africa and East Africa

The lowland gorillas can found in the woodlands and swamp lands in the western African countries. They are found in primary and the secondary forests as well as the montane forests and the lowland swamps. However, the lowland gorillas are not enlisted in the International union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classification as the critically endangered species. This is because the lowland gorillas are in several numbers and just in the DRC alone there are 100,000 individuals. The lowland silverback weighs about 180 kilograms and their females are smaller. Lowland gorillas have smaller in size and they have brownish gray far coats and a distinct brow ridge.
Lowland gorillas are frugivorous as compared to their counterparts the mountain gorillas. However, there are variations in seasons for the fruiting trees leading to variations in fruit availability. This means there are longer path lengths and more arboreal behavior. The large quantities availability makes the lowland to travel long distances to search for the food and hence longer time to track them.

In conclusion, both mountain and lowland gorillas are all distinct in their way especially their physical appearances and the habitats where they can be tracked. The gorillas are not found in every National Park and therefore tourists cannot take gorilla safari in any national park. There are mainly two destinations that a tourist can make mountain gorilla adventure that is Uganda and Rwanda. For those interested in lowland gorillas DRC and the western African countries are best for you.