Endangered: Western Lowland Gorillas

Female Western Lowland Gorilla 2014 © Stephen Bruno

For many years, I have enjoyed watching and photographing Western Lowland Gorillas.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is not the gorilla featured in the book and movie Gorillas in the Mist. That is the Mountain Gorilla which is one of the subspecies of eastern gorilla.

With the benefit of a super telephoto lens, I have learned much about their behavior.

When I have had the wonderful opportunity for closer observation, I value the intelligent interaction we share.

Western lowland gorillas are distinguished from other gorilla subspecies by their slightly smaller size, their brown-grey coats and auburn chests. They also have wider skulls with more pronounced brow ridges and smaller ears. Hands, faces, feet and chests are black and hairless.

Males are twice as large as females, often weighing over 350 pounds, and they have longer canine teeth. Females weigh about 180 – 200 pounds. On two feet, they may stand up to six feet tall.

Noses are the most distinguishing features on gorillas and are as individualized as fingerprints. Their eyes are small and reddish brown. Ears are small and set close to the head. Gorillas cannot swim and may drown in relatively shallow water

The males have a broad, silvery-white saddle as they mature, and are then, called “silverbacks.” Western Lowland Gorillas have many vocalizations, from hooting to pig grunting. They beat their chest and break vegetation as a defensive display against outsiders. They also communicate through facial expressions. Western Lowland Gorillas live about 30 to 40 years in the wild. They live about 40 to 60 years in captivity.

All gorillas are endangered. Western Lowland Gorillas are critically endangered. This is the highest threat category for a species. Illegal hunting of gorillas by humans, mainly for their bushmeat, poaching, mining, slash-and-burn agriculture, and war threaten the Western Lowland Gorillas. In addition, zoos and research organizations purchase some young captured gorillas.

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Embracing My Vulnerability

Originally published on April 2, 2010 at Ezine Articles

‘…the most profound personal changes resulting from mindfulness come when a person disidentifies with the contents of his mind and stands back from the melodrama.’ ~Mikulas

Many years ago, I faced a man who clutched a sawed-off shotgun. Visually it reminded me of the M79 grenade launcher, “Thumper,” that resembled a large bore, break-action, sawed-off shotgun during my 14-month Army tour of duty in Vietnam.

As the executive director of a regional mountain mental health agency, I commuted to the isolated cabin in the mountains in the Sheriff’s SUV. The deputy sheriff entered the cabin with me where we found an agitated man named Jeff standing in his bedroom with a shotgun leveled at us as he nervously played with the trigger. I softly spoke with Jeff as I entered the small bedroom. The deputy sheriff backed away partially closing the door behind him.

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