The Western Lowland Gorilla
Deep in the dense Congo rainforest is a place where it is possible to meet one of the great apes of Africa: the western lowland gorilla – Gorilla gorilla gorilla. Thanks to habitat loss – as rainforests all over the world are under immense pressure – and other threats, this characteristic mega-fauna of Central Africa is critically endangered, down to less than 100 000 animals and decreasing.
More about this species
Some of the highest recorded densities of western lowland gorillas are in Congo’s Odzala-Kokoua National Park, also one of the most spectacular rainforest areas in the world. Here, pioneering gorilla researchers Dr Magda Bermejo and German Illera have been able to habituate some groups to the presence of researchers and small groups of ecotourists staying at Ngaga Camp in the middle of this pristine forest. Extraordinarily skilled Mbeti trackers methodically follow their trails, allowing an intimate, almost voyeuristic, glimpse into the lives of these dignified, gentle apes with whom we share so much.
Where to see them
The area surrounding Ngaga Camp, set in primary forest, is perfect habitat for western lowland gorilla owing to a rather dense marantaceae understory. The habitat is so perfect that there are an estimated four gorillas per square kilometre – the highest density in Congo and second only to Gabon in Africa. Two gorilla groups in this area are ‘human tolerant’ so that guests can view this iconic species in its forest home.