Gorillas are divided into 2 species; namely, the Eastern gorillas and Western gorillas which are further divided each into two subspecies, the Eastern Lowland gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) and the Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) for the Eastern Gorillas then the Western Lowland gorillas(Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and the Cross River gorillas (Gorilla gorilla diehli).
Mountain gorillas are the most sought after by travelers to Africa, however there are also the lowland gorillas that can be found in the rainforests and swamps in West and Central African countries.
Western lowland gorillas
These are distributed over a large area of the gorilla subspecies. Western low land gorillas can be encountered in Central African Republic, Cameroon, D.R. Congo and Equatorial Guinea as well as in The republic of Congo and Gabon.
They inhabit some of the dense and remote rainforest in Africa and it has made the effort of doing their census and knowing the number in vain for the researchers and environmental protection groups but a good number of them is existent in the remote swamps in the Republic of Congo. There is an estimate of 10,000-20,000 individuals surviving.
These are of smaller size than their counter parts, brown-grey coats and dark reddish brown hair on its chests. They also have got wider skulls and small ears.
On the other hand, the Grauers gorilla (Eastern Lowland gorillas) is a sub specie of the eastern gorillas and are endemic to the forests of eastern D.R Congo – south Kivu province. The biggest population of these species dwell in the Kahuzi Biega National park in Eastern DR Congo, however they also can be seen in Maiko National park, Tayna Gorilla Reserve and Itombwe Massif.
These are larger and have a stocky body and is larger than the other gorilla species despite having almost same diet. The civil unrests in the country have made the numbers of the Eastern Gorillas troll, their home in the lowland forests in the DR Congo has reduced over time and it is now estimated that they roam in an area that is 13% of their former 8100 sq. mile area and 17000 individuals were estimated by scientists in mid 1990s.
In 2016, a head count was made and it was revealed that their population had fell by 77% to an estimate of 3800 individuals. The government and other organizations work hard to protect these apes and their habitat.
D.R. Congo has got 9 families of these eastern lowland gorillas but only two that are open for tourism. These are considered to be critically endangered on the IUCN list of wildlife that require special protection and about 500 individuals are in the 9 groups.
In Kahuzi Biega national park alone, these apes roam in wide range and this requires great efforts to habituate and track these gorillas.
At 400 USD only you are allowed to visit these apes in the park. Start with briefing at the Tshivanga visitors center where a guide will take you through the rules of gorilla tracking and nature of the park. You are then guided in search of the gorillas and for two or more hours walking and 1 hour to spend with these giants. Only 6 people are allowed to visit each group unlike the 8 for mountain gorillas.
You can opt to do consider a combined tour for both Mountain gorillas and Eastern Lowland gorillas in D.R. Congo.