Skip to Main Content
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance logo
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library logo

Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Population Status

Population estimates

  • Currently being evaluated: "a few hundred thousand" (Maisels et al. 2016)
  • 150,000 to 250,000 individuals (studies published in 2013 and 2015; see Maisels et al. 2016)

Population trend

  • Decreasing (Maisels et al. 2016)

Conservation Status

IUCN Status

CITES Status

US Endangered Species

  • Endangered
    • Listed 1970

Threats to Survival

Hunting and poaching

  • Bushmeat, trophy & subsistence hunting
  • Killed by farmers in retaliation for crop-raiding
  • Accidental death from snares


  • Small isolated populations susceptible to being wiped out by disease
  • Ebola virus disease
  • Gorilla ecotourism started in Rwanda and Uganda in the 1960s can bring disease - hepatits A, poliovirus, tapeworm, TB bacillus

Habitat degradation

  • Deforestation due to agriculture, logging, and domestic animal grazing
    • Especially oil-palm plantations
    • Habitat may be gone within a few decades
  • Mineral extraction
    • Coltan, a mineral used in cell phones, is found in gorilla habitat in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    • Miners in the area eat gorilla meat
  • Roads subdividing habitat

Climate change

  • Impacts not yet known; some may include:
  • Drying of the region
  • changes in plant growth and fruit production
  • Changes in temperature and precipitation


  • Civil war (80-90% of eastern lowland gorillas disappeared in Congo fighting 2002-2005)
  • War and civil unrest has resulted in human encroachment

Page Citations

Sarmietnto (2003)
Furniss (2005)
IUCN (2008)

SDZWA Library Links