The western gorilla is found inhabiting the tropical jungles and forests of western and central Africa, along with lowland swamps and secondary forests. All western gorillas are now considered to be critically endangered as much of their natural habitat has now been deforested or taken over by humans.
There are two separate sub-species of western gorilla which are the western lowland gorilla and the cross river gorilla. Although only slightly different in appearance, the two western gorilla species are distinguished by there differing skull and tooth sizes.
The western gorilla is one of the great apes, a group that includes orang-utans, gorillas, humans and chimpanzees. As with the other great apes, the western gorilla has a number of features which makes living in the jungle a bit easier, including having opposable thumbs which come in handy when the western gorilla is peeling fruit.
The western gorilla is an omnivorous animal, but the majority of it's diet is made up of eating fruit which the western gorilla is known to travel vast distances through the forests to find. The western gorilla also eats leaves, nuts and berries, along with insects and occasionally small animals such as lizards and rodents. The western gorilla has also been observed using basic tools in the wild in order to more effectively gather food.
Due to it's large size, the western gorilla has few real predators in it's native African forests, with large cats such as leopards and the odd crocodile being the only real natural threat to the western gorilla. The biggest threat to the western gorilla is habitat loss caused by deforestation and also being hunted by humans. Parts of the western gorilla's territory has also been taken over by civil unrest in recent years, which, along with poaching, has had a truly devastating affect on wild populations.
The western gorilla tends to live in groups which are led and protected by the alpha male. The alpha male western gorilla also mates with the females in his group, producing generally single offspring, known as babies. The western gorilla babies remain with their mother until they are a few years old and become independent.
Today, all western gorillas are critically endangered species but there are thought to be 95,000 western lowland gorillas remaining in the wild, significantly more than their cross river gorilla cousins, whose numbers in the wild are thought to to as low as 300 individuals.