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Diet of Grauer’s Gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) in a Low-Elevation Forest

Authors
  • van der Hoek, Yntze
  • Pazo, Wadika Dumbo
  • Binyinyi, Escobar
  • Ngobobo, Urbain
  • Stoinski, Tara S.
  • Caillaud, Damien
Type
Published Article
Journal
Folia Primatologica
Publisher
S. Karger AG
Publication Date
Apr 21, 2021
Volume
92
Issue
2
Pages
126–138
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1159/000515377
PMID: 33882499
Source
Karger
Keywords
License
Green
External links

Abstract

Although the vast majority of critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas (Gorilla beringei graueri) inhabit low-elevation rain forests, current insights into this ape’s life history and ecology stem predominantly from 2 small populations ranging in highland habitats. Here, we provide an initial and non-exhaustive overview of food items of Grauer’s gorillas in the Nkuba Conservation Area (NCA), a lower-elevation (500–1,500 m) forest located between Kahuzi-Biega National Park and Maiko National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Community-based conservation efforts at the NCA aim to protect a population of unhabituated Grauer’s gorillas, which we have studied since 2014. Between 2014 and 2020, we simultaneously tracked 1–3 gorilla groups and recorded a total of 10,514 feeding signs on at least 100 plant species, ants, termites, and fungi. Vegetative plant parts (plant stems, leaves, pith, bark, and roots), especially of Marantaceae and Fabaceae, made up close to 90% of recorded feeding signs, with fruit accounting for most of the remainder and a small (<1%) number of feeding signs on invertebrates and fungi. We found that the most frequently recorded food items were consumed year-round, though fruit intake seems to peak in the September-December wet season, possibly reflecting patterns in fruit phenology. The diet of Grauer’s gorillas in the NCA differed from that of Grauer’s gorillas in highland habitat and instead showed similarities with Grauer’s gorillas at the lowland forest of Itebero and with western lowland gorillas (G. gorilla), which live under ecologically comparable conditions.

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