According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, both the eastern and western gorillas are classified as critically endangered, indicating they are both facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Threats to gorilla survival include habitat destruction and poaching for the bushmeat trade.
Statistics reported as of 2016 by the IUCN, estimate that the mountain gorilla is the most severely endangered with about 880 left in the wild and none in zoos.
The IUCN is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, founded in 1948, serving worldwide.
Gorillas are ground-dwelling, predominately herbivorous apes that inhabit the forest of central Sub-Saharan Africa. The genus ‘Gorilla’ is divided into two species: the eastern gorillas and the western gorillas, with four or five subspecies.
The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of gorillas is highly similarly to that of humans, from 95 to 99%.
The distribution of gorillas is patchy with the two species separated by the Congo River and its tributaries. The western gorilla lives in the west part of central Africa, while the eastern gorilla lives in the east part of central Africa. Habitats range from montane forest to swampland.
Gorillas are considered highly intelligent and can laugh, grieve, develop strong family bonds, make use of tools, and think about the past and future.
Gorillas move around by knuckle-walking, although they sometimes walk upright for short distances typically while carrying food or in defensive situations. A 2018 study investigating the hand posture of 77 mountain gorillas at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (8% of the population) found that knuckle walking was done only 60% of the time, and they also supported their weight on their fists, the backs of their hands/feet, and on their palms/soles (with the digits flexed). Such a range of hand postures was previously thought to have been used by only orangutans. Studies of gorilla handedness have yielded varying results, with some arguing for no preference for either hand, and others right-hand dominance for the general population.
Wild male gorillas weigh 300 to 500 lb, while adult females weigh 150–250 lb. Adult males are 4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in tall, with an arm span that stretches from 7 ft 7 in to 8 ft 6 in. Female gorillas are shorter at 4 ft 1 in to 4 ft 11 in, with smaller arm spans.