Differences Between Eastern and Western Gorillas


A comparison of physical appearance, habitat, subspecies, conservation status, and behavior of the two recognized species of gorillas.

3 min

BY Jessica

Published on March 27, 2023

The two recognized species of gorillas, the eastern and western gorilla, have several differences between them. Here are some of the key differences:

  1. Physical Appearance: The eastern gorilla is generally larger than the western gorilla. The male mountain gorilla, a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, can weigh up to 400 pounds and stand up to 5.5 feet tall when on two legs, while the largest western gorilla subspecies, the western lowland gorilla, typically weighs around 300 pounds and stands up to 5 feet tall on two legs. Eastern gorillas also have longer hair on their arms, whereas western gorillas have shorter hair.
  2. Habitat: Eastern gorillas are found in the mountainous regions of central and eastern Africa, while western gorillas are found in the lowland forests of western and central Africa.
  3. Subspecies: Both the eastern and western gorillas have two recognized subspecies each, with slight differences in appearance and behavior.
  4. Conservation Status: All subspecies of gorillas are currently listed as endangered or critically endangered due to habitat loss, poaching, and disease, but the mountain gorilla and cross river gorilla are the most critically endangered of all the subspecies.
  5. Behavior: While both species are similar in behavior, there are slight differences. Eastern gorillas tend to have a more herbivorous diet and are known to eat more bamboo and other plant matter, while western gorillas have been observed eating insects and other small animals more frequently. Additionally, eastern gorillas tend to have larger social groups, with up to 30 individuals in a group, while western gorillas typically have smaller groups of around 10 individuals.

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