Great ape in crisis

Grauer’s gorilla, also known as the eastern lowland gorilla, is found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Today, this subspecies is confined to the primary tropical forest of eastern DRC – most notably in Kahuzi-Biega and Maiko National Parks, but a substantial portion of its habitat falls outside these areas in the vast, yet legally unprotected forest that separates them.

A 2016 report by Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the Wildlife Conservation Society and other partners documented a shocking 77% drop in Grauer’s gorilla numbers, from an estimated 17,000 in 1995 to just 3,800 individuals today. The subspecies is now listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Grauer's gorilla facts

  • A highly sociable animal, Grauer’s gorilla lives in family groups – typically comprising between two and 30 individuals
  • They are predominantly herbivorous and eat mainly plant matter (including fruit and bamboo), but will also eat insects
  • Grauer’s gorillas are, on average, the largest of all gorilla subspecies
  • Males can weigh up to 250 kilos and reach two metres tall when standing
  • Anecdotal observations suggest that – unlike other gorilla subspecies – if a group feels threatened, the whole family will stand its ground instead of fleeing
At a glance
Gorilla beringei graueri
Critically Endangered
Democratic Republic of Congo

Family:

Hominidae

Order:

Primates

Est. in the wild:

3,800

Grauer’s gorilla is a subspecies of the eastern gorilla, and as such is closely related to the mountain gorilla. It is the largest of all gorilla subspecies.

97%

of the entire population could be lost by 2054 unless urgent action is taken.

250 kg

Male Grauer’s gorillas can weigh roughly the same as a grand piano.

Conservation story

The severe decline in Grauer’s gorillas has been driven primarily by hunting (due to high demand for bushmeat from a growing human population that has few alternative, affordable proteins), the destabilising impact of armed groups, and habitat loss due to agricultural conversion, logging and artisanal mining.

The permanent presence of people employed by extractive industries in the forest has also aggravated many of these threats in recent years.

How FFI is helping to save Grauer's gorilla

Since 2012, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has worked with local communities and authorities to conserve Grauer’s gorillas and their habitat in community forest areas outside the national parks.

Today, FFI is supporting two community reserves that are home to Grauer’s gorilla, namely REGOMUKI and REGOLU, where we are helping to build local capacity, as well as training and equipping community rangers.

We have also been helping the reserves to conduct monthly bio-monitoring patrols that record the presence of gorilla groups and other threatened species such as chimpanzee, okapi and Congo peafowl. While monitoring, rangers also remove snares that can endanger the lives of these rare gorillas.