Hands of orangutan, chimpanzee, gorilla and human
Feet of orangutan, chimpanzee, western gorilla, mountain gorilla and human
All extant apes live in the tropics of the Old World: orangutans and the various gibbon species in Asia, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas in Africa. There, the gorillas live in rain forests from the lowland up to the mountains.
Although chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest relatives of humans, gorillas resemble us more in some respects. For instance, the gorillas' hands and feet resemble the human ones more than those of other apes. Gorillas spend more time on the ground than other apes, therefore their feet are more suited to walking. This is especially true for the mountain gorillas.
Gorillas – Distribution and Subspecies
Today, the distribution areas of the western and the eastern gorillas are separated by almost 900 km. The reason for this is probably that a formerly uniform area was split at some point, most likely during the ice ages. At that time, climatic changes caused the rain forest to shrink into a few refuge areas.
The Savannah, which spread between these refuge areas, was not an appropriate habitat for gorillas. Later, when the rain forest spread again over the whole of the African tropics, gorillas could only advance to the Ubangi and Congo Rivers.As western and eastern gorillas have been separated for such a long time, they have followed separate development paths. Today, they differ distinctly both in their external characteristics and in their genetic material.
More than 100,000 gorillas are still living in the western area, according to estimates, and in the eastern region there may be only about 3,000 individuals left. The eastern gorillas are extremely endangered, which is why the “Mountain Gorilla & the Rain Forest Direct Help” supports the conservation of these populations in particular.