Cross River Gorilla Facts You’ll Never Forget

Cross River gorilla facts about the world's rarest great apes.

You might already be aware that the great apes of Africa, like the chimpanzees and the gorillas, and the humans share a common ancestor. Here we will take you through different facts about one of the world's rarest great apes, the Cross River gorilla.

The Cross River gorilla (whose scientific name is Gorilla gorilla diehli) is a subspecies of the Western gorilla (whose scientific name is Gorilla gorilla) that was first discovered in the early 1900s. They are found in Cameroon and Nigeria regions. This species has got the name Cross River gorilla, as found in Cameroon and Nigeria's border at the rivers' headwaters, Cross River in Nigeria. The small population of these species is known to be found in the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary and Cross River National Park in Nigeria, the Mbe Mountains, and Takamanda National Park in Cameroon.

The Cross River gorilla is a critically endangered great ape in Africa with a small population size of around 300. So, it is essential to learn about this species and appreciate the conservation efforts being taken to save this species.

If you would love to know more about other animal species, you may also consider looking into our articles on the mountain gorilla and the eastern lowland gorilla.

Cross River Gorilla

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Fruits, leaves, and tree bark

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Male: 310-440 lb (140-200 kg) Female: 220 lb (100 kg)

How long are they?


How tall are they?

Male: 5 ft 5 in - 5 ft 9 in (165-175 cm)

Female: 4 ft 7 in (140 cm)

What do they look like?

Gray, black

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Crocodiles, leopards, and humans

What is their conservation status?

Critically Endangered

Where you'll find them

Dense rain forests, forested hills, and mountains


Nigeria and Cameroon





Scientific Name

Gorilla gorilla diehli





Cross River Gorilla Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Cross River Gorilla?

As the name suggests, a Cross River gorilla is a gorilla subspecies native to Central Africa.

What class of animal does a Cross River Gorilla belong to?

A Cross River gorilla belongs to the mammal class.

How many Cross River Gorillas are there in the world?

The Cross River Gorillas' population is less compared to other gorilla species. As per the census, the population of these gorillas is estimated to be between 200-300.

Where does a Cross River Gorilla live?

The Cross River gorilla is native to Central Africa region and is found in Cameroon and Nigeria border.

What is a Cross River Gorilla's habitat?

The habitat preference for these species is influenced by few conditions like climate, availability of seasonal fruits, and herbaceous vegetation. The Cross River gorilla habitat is mentioned to be dense forests and forested hills and mountains, preferably away from threats, mainly humans. They usually repeat the habitat near seasonal fruit sources. When the food is scarce, they tend to leave their current habitat and move to other parts of the forest or lowlands. These gorillas are known to adapt to climatic changes better than the other subspecies. The Cross River gorilla adaptations like thick hair coats protect them from cold temperatures and insect bites. They protect them from cold temperatures by remaining in their shelters for longer durations.

Who do Cross River Gorillas live with?

The Cross River Gorillas live in small groups. Usually, the group size will be between 2-20 individuals referred to as Cross River gorilla families with one dominant male gorilla, few female gorillas, and their children.

How long does a Cross River Gorilla live?

A Cross River gorilla lifespan is known to be 35-50 years in the wild. The captive lifespan information of these species is unavailable.

How do they reproduce?

Very little information is available about the reproductive habits of Cross River Gorillas as the study of this gorilla subspecies is underway. These gorillas are presumed to reproduce through mating like other gorillas subspecies. The female Cross River gorilla reaches reproductive maturity at nearly 10 years. In contrast, the males usually prefer to mate only after 15 years as they attain dominant status. The Cross River gorillas are polygamous as the dominant male in the groups will mate multiple females. The gestation period for these gorillas is the same as for humans, i.e. eight to nine months, and the females give birth to one baby every year.

What is their conservation status?

The population of the Cross River gorilla is meager compared to the other subspecies of the Western gorilla, i.e. the Western Lowland gorilla. As classified by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Cross River gorilla's conservation status is Critically Endangered, and it is the most endangered great ape.

Cross River Gorilla Fun Facts

What do Cross River Gorillas look like?

A Cross River gorilla is similar to other subspecies with very few differences. At first sight, it appears muscular with a cone-shaped face, deeply set dark eyes, a big nose with wide nasal passages, small hands, and feet with opposable thumbs and fingers. Its face, hands, and feet are covered with fur, and the coats appear brownish-gray to black, a reddish crest on top of its head, and its chest looks in auburn. Matured males or the dominant males will have shiny gray hair on their back and thighs. That's why they are called 'Silverbacks.' The Cross River gorillas have shorter skulls and smaller cranial vaults but weigh more than a Western Lowland gorilla.

The Cross River gorilla is Africa's most endangered great ape.

How cute are they?

Many do not find a gorilla cute because of its size and scary appearance. You may enjoy watching it in a zoo though.

How do they communicate?

Usually, all gorilla species communicate by making sounds. The loudness varies depending on their mood, and they make different sounds while playing, mating, and showing aggression towards a predator.

How big is a Cross River Gorilla?

In general, the male species is taller than the female. The males grow to a height ranging from 5 ft 5 in-5 ft 12 in, while the females grow to a height of 4 ft 7 in.

How fast can a Cross River Gorilla move?

A Cross River gorilla travels at a speed of 25 mph.

How much does a Cross River Gorilla weigh?

Like other gorillas, a Cross River gorilla exhibits body size dimorphism, i.e. a male is taller and heavier than a female. In this subspecies, males weigh about 310-440 lb, whereas females weigh around 220 lb.

What are their male and female names of the species?

This species doesn't have gender-specific names. Usually, they are called male and female Cross River gorilla.

What would you call a baby Cross River Gorilla?

The Cross River gorilla babies do not have a specific name. It is known as gorilla infant or gorilla baby.

What do they eat?

A Cross River gorilla diet includes seasonal fruits, leaves, tree barks, and liana.

Are they loud?

The Cross River gorillas can be considered calm as they do not show aggression until they face threats. If they feel threatened, they stand upright and bang on their chest, making loud sounds. This behavior is shown only by the dominant male gorilla.

Would they make a good pet?

Their population census data and preferred habitat information suggest that they cannot be a good pet if domesticated in the human habitat.

Did you know...

Usually, the dominant male gorilla in the groups is responsible for protecting the females and the infants from possible threats. It throws lumps of gravel and small trees at humans to protect the group.

A drastic decline in the population of Cross River gorilla is observed between the years 1995-2010. The decline is nearly 59% and considered a significant decline recorded as compared to any other great apes. These gorillas play a vital role in seed dispersal and help develop plant communities within the forest, and hence it is very important to conserve them. As part of conservation efforts to revive the population of these gorillas, the Nigeria and Cameroon governments have built the Cross River National Park, the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, and Takamanda National Park to protect the gorillas from human threats.

Why are Cross River Gorillas endangered?

The main reasons for making this subspecies critically endangered are habitat loss, bushmeat trade, and loss of genetic diversity. The habitat loss is due to deforestation and converting forest land into agricultural land by people staying near these forests at Nigeria and Cameroon border. Bushmeat trading is more prevalent in forests in Cameroon and Nigeria regions as the people living in these regions are solely dependent on these gorillas for high protein meat. The small population of these subspecies is the reason for the loss of genetic diversity. Another threat is inbreeding and diseases due to the Ebola virus. So, if these gorillas are not protected, soon they'll become extinct.

The revival of these gorillas is tricky as the females give birth to one baby every year and protect the baby until it reaches three to four years. During this time, they don't allow the male to mate.

Different types of Gorillas

Gorillas are classified into two types. They are Western gorilla and Eastern gorilla. Subspecies of the Western gorilla are the Cross River gorilla and Western Lowland gorilla, while the subspecies of the Eastern gorilla are Mountain gorilla and Eastern Lowland gorilla. The Western Lowland gorilla is the smallest of all these subspecies. Both Western and Eastern gorillas are classified as Critically Endangered. That's why the revival of all these subspecies is significant before becoming extinct. The population census of individual subspecies is as follows:

-The Cross River gorilla population is around 300.

-The Mountain gorilla population is around 1000.

-The Eastern Lowland gorilla population is around 6000.

-The Western Lowland gorilla population is around 350,000.

The Western Lowland gorilla habitat is rain forest, lowland tropical forest, and riverine forest. The Eastern gorillas tend to move in larger groups than the Western subspecies, i.e. the group size would be up to 35 individuals. The Western Lowland gorillas, the Mountain gorillas, and the Eastern Lowland gorillas are the famous tourist attractions in the National Parks across the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Howler Monkey, or Gelada.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Cross River Gorilla coloring pages.



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