Top 10 Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Top 10 Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Top 10 Facts About Mountain Gorillas : In the misty and mountains jungles of Central and East Africa, there roams the endangered mountain gorillas which are one of the most sought for wildlife species by travelers. These fascinating primates are one of the closest living relatives to man with 98% identical to humans and live in social structures called the troops, Each gorilla family comprises of a dominant silverback – the leader of the group, females, blackbacks and babies.

Top 10 Facts About Mountain Gorillas

Scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringe, mountain gorilla – the giant primate is a subspecies of the eastern only which is only found in East and Central Africa. Also, it is the biggest primate living. It is larger, more powerful and has thicker, longer fur than any other gorilla species. Its thicker fur allows it to survive in the harsh environments at high altitudes and extreme coldness.

The only way to see mountain gorillas is trekking into the jungle, the mountain gorillas are only found in the rainforests of Central and Eastern Africa in only two populations. One population in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the second population in the Virunga Mountains Rage comprises of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DR. Congo.

As you are planning to visit mountains in one of the 4 gorilla destinations in the world, this article offers you an insight about the top 10 facts about mountain gorillas. Learning about these facts will help know what to expect on a gorilla trekking adventure in Africa.

  1. Around 1,063 Exist in the Wild

In the whole world, there are two gorilla species namely the Eastern gorilla and Western gorilla, the mountain gorillas found in the rainforests of Central and Eastern Africa are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla.

Mountain gorillas are categorized as endangered and according to the latest census result which comes out every 5-10 years, there is an estimated 1,063 individuals in the wild.

  1. They Live in Two Isolated Groups

Mountain gorillas are only found in the East – Central Africa thriving in the mountainous rainforests in just two isolated ground – one in the Virunga Volcanoes (a chain of mountains spanning 3 national parks that is Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)). Another population is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda which connects to Sarambwe Nature Reserve in DRC.

The mountain gorillas are found in high altitude montane and bamboo forest which are surrounded by agriculture and settlements.

Top 10 Facts About Mountain Gorillas

  1. We Share around 98% of our DNA with Gorillas

This means mountain gorillas are skeptical to human illnesses, even a cold and flu can have potentially detrimental impacts on gorillas as they are so genetically to us. But they haven’t developed the necessary immunities.

  1. They are one of the biggest, most powerful living primates

Mountain gorillas are one of the biggest as well the most powerful living primates with an average silverback gorilla weighing about 180kg and measure 170 cm (over 5’5) tall on all fours. Female mountain gorillas can weigh 90 kg and measure up to 150 cm (4’9).

  1. They can Eat all Day Long

Mountain gorillas spend about a quarter of their day eating on mainly plants, around 85% of their diet is made up of leaves, shoots and steams. Gorillas can also eat larvae, snails, ants and even roots, barks and rooting wood which is a good source of sodium/salt.

  1. 6. They Cozy Up at Night

At night, mountain gorillas sleep together in the nests on the ground or in trees. They build their nests from foliage. Infants will share with their mothers in the same nest for warm and safety reasons.

  1. They have 16 different types of call (communication)

Mountain gorillas communicate in a total of 16 different ways including short barks when they are mildly alarmed or curious.

So as to intimidate their rivals, male gorillas (silverbacks) strut with stiff legs, beat their chests and use vocalizations like roars, hoots and beating their chest.

  1. They Live in Family Groups

Mountain gorillas live in stable family groups/troops of around 10 individuals, with each one dominant male and several females. The dominant silverback is the leader of the group/family with responsibility of protecting the family from intruders and other wild animals, he also decides where the family forages in the forest.

Both males and females in the group care for their infants, hugging, carrying and playing with them.

When they get older, most males and around 60% of females then leave their birth group to join another troop. This helps prevent inbreeding.

  1. In the wild, gorillas can live to over 40 years old – Life Expectancy

Mountain gorillas are classified as infants until they reach around three and a half years old and adults often around 8 years. Males between 8-12 years are called black backs. Then from 12 years old, they develop a silverback section of hair over their back and hips earning them the name “Silverback”.

Top 10 Facts About Mountain Gorillas

  1. They are under threat

In the past years, mountain gorillas were classified as critically endangered due to their decreasing numbers. Thanks to the tremendous conservation and research methods, number of mountain gorillas are slowly increasing and now they are classified as “Endangered”. However, they are still under threat and the main threat is the degradation of their habitat.

As the population of the region grows and the demand for land increases for agriculture and settlement, competition for limited natural resources leads to deforestation. With little other choice, people enter mountain gorilla forests to collect water and firewood which puts gorillas at risk from human contact and illnesses.

Also, people may lay snares intended for bushmeat which accidently injure the great apes.

Gorillas do not just stay in the forest, they venture onto farmland to eat crops like maize and bananas which can cause conflict with people who need to make a living.

Some of the not well-managed tourism activities is another potential issue that can impact the behavior and health of mountain gorillas.

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