Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla. I laughed when I first heard the scientific name of the Western Lowland Gorilla. No it’s not a joke and let me explain to you.
All four gorilla subspecies and the two gorilla species belong to the Gorilla genus. This name came from the word idiginous people of that area called the animal roughly meaning in English to be “hairy person”.
Western Gorillas are one of two species of the Gorilla genus, the other being the Eastern gorilla. Their scientific name is Gorilla Gorilla while their Eastern counterparts are called Gorilla Beringei. Each of the species has two subspecies of gorilla and the western gorilla splits into the Western Lowland Gorilla and the Cross River Gorilla.
Western Lowland gorillas inhabit lowland rainforests from Cameroon to the Congo River, hence its name, while Easten gorillas live in small forested regions along the Cross River separating Nigeria from Cameroon. The subspecies name of the Western gorilla also happens to be gorilla making it’s full scientific name Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla.
The Western Lowland gorilla are thought to be the most widespread of all gorilla species and also tend to be on the smaller side. While we have seen Western Lowland gorillas frequently with brown-gray coats and reddish chests, exact numbers of the species are unknown as they tend to live in the densest forests. What these gorillas have in common with all other gorillas are their conservation status. They are critically endangered and with their home shrinking fast compounded with poaching and disease, their populations are shrinking rapidly. Gorillas are one of the closest species to us genetically and are unfortunately able to contract diseases from humans. According to the WWF, “even if all of the threats to western lowland gorillas were removed, scientists calculate that the population would require some 75 years to recover.”
Daniel Kim (August, 2022)