Lowland Gorillas vs. Mountain Gorillas

What's the Difference?

Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas are two subspecies of gorillas that share many similarities but also have distinct differences. Both species are large and powerful, with males weighing up to 400 pounds. However, Mountain Gorillas are generally larger and have longer fur to adapt to their colder habitat. Lowland Gorillas, on the other hand, have shorter fur and are found in the dense rainforests of Central and West Africa. Another significant difference is their population size, with Lowland Gorillas being more numerous compared to the critically endangered Mountain Gorillas. Despite these variations, both species are highly intelligent, social, and play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of their respective ecosystems.


AttributeLowland GorillasMountain Gorillas
Scientific NameGorilla gorillaGorilla beringei
LocationCentral and West AfricaEastern Africa
HabitatLowland rainforestsMountainous forests
Altitude RangeSea level to 1,600 meters1,600 to 4,000 meters
Physical SizeSmaller and lighterLarger and heavier
Coat ColorBrownish-grayBlack
BehaviorMore social and activeLess social and calm
DietPrimarily herbivorousPrimarily herbivorous
PopulationHigher populationLower population

Further Detail


Gorillas are fascinating creatures that captivate the imagination of people around the world. Within the gorilla species, there are two distinct subspecies: the Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and the Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). While they share many similarities, they also possess unique attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of both Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas, shedding light on their physical features, habitats, behaviors, and conservation status.

Physical Features

Both Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas are large and powerful creatures, but they exhibit slight differences in their physical attributes. Lowland Gorillas are generally larger in size, with males weighing between 300 to 400 pounds and standing around 5.6 feet tall when on all fours. They have shorter hair and a broader face compared to their mountain-dwelling counterparts. On the other hand, Mountain Gorillas are slightly smaller, with males weighing between 350 to 450 pounds and standing around 5.4 feet tall when on all fours. They have longer hair, especially on their backs, which helps them withstand the colder temperatures of their high-altitude habitats.


The habitat of Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas is one of the key factors that differentiate them. Lowland Gorillas primarily inhabit the dense rainforests and swampy areas of Central and West Africa. They are found in countries such as Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and Equatorial Guinea. These regions provide them with a warm and humid climate, abundant food sources, and a variety of vegetation to thrive on. On the other hand, Mountain Gorillas are exclusively found in the volcanic slopes and dense montane forests of the Virunga Massif, which spans across the borders of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their habitat is characterized by cooler temperatures, higher altitudes, and a unique ecosystem that supports their specialized diet.


When it comes to behavior, both Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas share many similarities. They are highly social animals that live in cohesive groups known as troops or bands. These groups are led by a dominant silverback male, who is responsible for protecting the troop and maintaining order. Both subspecies also exhibit complex communication through a combination of vocalizations, body postures, and facial expressions. They are herbivorous, primarily feeding on leaves, fruits, stems, and occasionally insects. However, there are some behavioral differences between the two subspecies. Lowland Gorillas tend to have larger troop sizes, with groups ranging from 5 to 30 individuals. Mountain Gorilla troops, on the other hand, are usually smaller, consisting of 10 to 20 individuals. This difference in troop size may be influenced by the availability of resources in their respective habitats.

Conservation Status

Both Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas face significant threats to their survival, primarily due to habitat loss, poaching, and disease. However, their conservation statuses differ. Lowland Gorillas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their populations have been severely impacted by deforestation, illegal hunting, and the Ebola virus. Efforts are being made by conservation organizations and local communities to protect their habitats and combat these threats. On the other hand, Mountain Gorillas have shown a remarkable recovery in recent years. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, their population has increased, leading to an upgrade in their conservation status from critically endangered to endangered. Strict protection measures, community involvement, and ecotourism initiatives have played a crucial role in their conservation success.


Lowland Gorillas and Mountain Gorillas, while belonging to the same gorilla species, exhibit distinct differences in their physical features, habitats, behaviors, and conservation statuses. Lowland Gorillas are larger in size, inhabit the rainforests of Central and West Africa, and face critical endangerment. On the other hand, Mountain Gorillas are slightly smaller, live in the high-altitude forests of the Virunga Massif, and have experienced a positive population trend. Both subspecies are awe-inspiring creatures that deserve our attention and protection. By understanding their unique attributes and supporting conservation efforts, we can ensure the long-term survival of these magnificent animals for generations to come.

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