Lowland Gorillas in Congo

Lowland Gorillas in Congo

The lowland gorillas are a critically endangered subspecies of the eastern gorilla found in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. As the largest subspecies of gorillas, they captivate researchers, conservationists, and wildlife enthusiasts alike with their immense size, gentle nature, and complex social structures. Congo (Zaire) also known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the biggest countries in Africa. The country covers the central and eastern parts of the continent. Congo is one of the untamed safari destinations in Africa and is covered by large-scale rainforests.

Lowland gorilla trekking in East Africa is not as popular as mountain gorilla trekking. This could be a result of the fact that mountain gorilla trekking can be done in three countries (Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo) unlike lowland gorilla trekking which is only done in Congo (Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Gorilla trekking in East Africa is done within the Virunga Conservation Area. The Virunga Conservation Area comprises national parks like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park. Anyone who takes on a mountain gorilla trekking safari in one or two of these countries gets an extraordinary adventure.

Habitat and distribution of lowland gorillas in Congo

The lowland gorilla subspecies are predominantly found in the equatorial rain forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unlike mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas are found in areas of low altitude and warm temperatures. This is one of the reasons why lowland gorilla trekking in Congo is easier than mountain gorilla trekking.

One must be physically fit to take on a mountain gorilla trekking safari in Virunga National Park. This is not the case with trekking lowland gorillas of Kahuzi-Biega National Park. These lush, biodiverse forests provide an ideal sanctuary for these great apes, offering a rich abundance of vegetation, fruits, and insects upon which they depend. The lowland gorillas inhabit both primary and secondary forests, adapting to a range of environments including swamp forests and lowland areas near rivers.

Physical Characteristics of lowland gorillas

Lowland gorillas are distinguishable by their large size and robust build. Adult males, known as silverbacks, can weigh up to 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and stand around 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) tall when fully erect. They have broad chests, muscular arms, and a sagittal crest atop their heads. Females are generally smaller, weighing around 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and standing about 4.6 feet (1.4 meters) tall. Both males and females possess long, strong arms that aid in climbing and foraging in the forest.

Social Structure and Behavior of lowland gorillas

Lowland gorillas live in close social groups known as families. Each family is led by a dominant silverback, who is responsible for protecting the group and maintaining order within the hierarchy. The silverback is typically the largest and oldest male, exhibiting silver-gray hair on its back, hence the name. A silverback who gets old is succeeded by his son or a strong invader from another family. The group that does not cooperate with the new leader must find their way out. This is how new gorilla families are born. The gorilla family also consists of females, their offspring, and younger subordinate males. Lowland gorillas lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle, primarily on the ground but also climbing trees when necessary.

They are herbivorous, with their diet mainly comprising leaves, fruits, stems, and shoots. These gentle giants spend a significant portion of their day foraging, utilizing their hand-using skills to gather food and socialize within the family. Communication plays a vital role in lowland gorilla society. They use a range of vocalizations such as grunts, hoots, roars, and chest-beating displays to convey messages and assert dominance. Non-verbal cues like body postures and facial expressions also play an essential role in their social interactions.

The challenges facing lowland gorillas in Congo

Over the past decades, lowland gorillas have been facing quite several challenges, especially from the human side. The parks in which these lowland gorillas stay have been encroached by human beings. Activities like deforestation, bush burning, farming, and poaching have posed a serious threat to the lives of lowland gorillas in Congo. The human-wildlife conflict still poses a great danger to the lowland gorillas in Congo. This is why the lowland gorilla subspecies is categorized as a critically endangered species by UNESCO. Kahuzi-Biega National Park is also known as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To be able to reduce the problems faced by the lowland gorillas, the government of Congo has established strict laws concerning poaching and enrichment in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. This has seen a tremendous increase in the number of lowland gorillas in Congo over the past years. This is why Congo is one of the best gorilla trekking destinations in Africa.

How is lowland gorilla trekking in Congo done?

Lowland gorilla trekking in Congo is done in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park. The park is located in the eastern parts of the country near the border of Rwanda and Uganda. This is what makes it the best destination for combined gorilla trekking safaris in East Africa.

Lowland gorilla trekking in Congo usually starts with a morning breakfast at your lodge. Travelers then report to the park headquarters for briefing. You will learn about the gorilla trekking rules and regulations in Congo. You will then embark on the amazing gorilla trekking in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. Upon meeting a gorilla family, you are given one hour to spend in the presence of the gorillas. Here, you will take as many pictures as long as you do not use a flash-light camera. Congo has expert gorilla trekking guides who pay attention to details and are devoted to helping you get the best safari experience while trekking the gorillas.

Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a reliable birding destination since it has multiple species of birds. It is very easy to do a combined birding and gorilla trekking safari in Congo. Book yourself a 15 days Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo gorilla trekking safari and get an extraordinary tour experience.

Other than gorilla trekking in Congo, the country provides the best hiking adventures, birding tours, guided nature walks, and wildlife game drives, to mention but a few.

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