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Nutritional Aspects of Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Diet During Seasons of Fruit Scarcity at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic

Abstract

Traditionally, gorillas were classified as folivores, yet 15 years of data on western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) show their diet to contain large quantities of foliage and fruit, and to vary both seasonally and annually. The consumption of fruit by gorillas at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic, is correlated with rainfall and ripe fruit availability (Remis, 1997a). We investigated the nutritional and chemical content of gorilla foods consumed at Bai Hokou during two seasons of fruit scarcity as measured by phenological observations and compared our findings with the nutrient content of gorilla foods at other African sites. We conclude that during lean times, Bai Hokou gorillas consumed fruits with higher levels of fiber and secondary compounds than those of other populations of western lowland or mountain gorillas. Conversely, leaves consumed by Bai Hokou gorillas were relatively low in fiber and tannins. Bai Hokou gorillas appeared to meet their nutritional needs by eating a combination of fruit and foliage. They ate fruits comparatively high in secondary compounds and fiber when necessary. While gorillas are selective feeders, wherever and whenever preferred foods are scarce, their large body size and digestive anatomy enable them to consume and process a broader repertoire of foods than smaller bodied-apes.

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Remis, M.J., Dierenfeld, E.S., Mowry, C.B. et al. Nutritional Aspects of Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) Diet During Seasons of Fruit Scarcity at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic. International Journal of Primatology 22, 807–836 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012021617737

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1012021617737

  • fiber
  • phenolics
  • feeding ecology
  • African apes