Mountain Gorillas are the largest of the great primates and are the most endangered species. Having gone through decades of civil war in East Africa and Central, Mountain gorillas are confronted by the distressing consequences of increased habitat loss, poaching and the spread of dangerous diseases. Although gorillas are frequently depicted as hostile, dangerous, they are really shy and calm. Because of enormous loss of habitat, these royal primates are in great peril of going extinct.
There are two main groups of gorillas; the western gorilla with two subspecies (Western lowland and Cross River). These are located in west and central Africa. The Eastern gorilla species comprise of the mountain gorillas (Bwindi families and Virungas), as well eastern lowland gorillas which are found in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Scientist estimate that there are approximately 50,000 gorillas left in the wild of Africa. These are mostly found in the western lowland whereas. 600 are Mountain Gorillas and 2,500 are eastern Gorillas.
The Mountain gorillas have the least population with about 320 in the Bwindi area and 380 in the Virungas.
Physical Characteristics of the Mountain Gorillas
Gorillas are the largest among the living primates. The majority live in remote regions in different thick forests in tropical Africa, and one subspecies, the MOUNTAIN GORILLA (Gorilla beringei beringei), was not yet known to scientist until 1902.
The mountain gorilla has a vigorous build with long, muscular arms, a massive chest, and broad hands and feet. It is the hairiest race of gorillas; its long, thick black hair insulates it from the cold of living at high elevations.
The dense, forest ecosystems of the mountains of East Africa are the last remaining habitat of the mountain gorilla.
Mountain gorillas are restricted to 4 national parks. One family of mountain gorillas inhabits the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. The second family of mountain gorillas is found in the territory shared by Volcano National Park (Rwanda), Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda), and Virunga National Park -Southern Sector (DRC).
Their behaviors and Social habits
Mountain Gorillas are shy, social animals and are active during the day. They live in groups of 6-7 individuals, with an adult male (Silverback), the minority are females and their young ones. When the young grow up, they form another group.
How do Mountain Gorillas eat?
Gorillas are mainly herbivores, (feed over 200 species of plants). They hunt for food in the forests during the day. They eat plant bulbs, seeds, flowers, leaves, fruit, tender plant shoots, and tree bark. Irregularly, gorillas complement their diet with ants and termites.
Gorillas rarely need to drink water since their diet is rich in juicy herbs. A normal adult male eats roughly 50 pounds of food a day.
How Gorillas Sleep?
Every evening, gorillas make a "nest" for the night in which they will coil up and sleep. These curved in nests are made out of plant material and leaves. Nests are only shared by a mother and her children. Research which has been carried out shows that you can estimate a gorilla population by counting the number of nests.
Grooming of Mountain Gorillas
Grooming is a major job among mountain Gorillas in their groups. This is the process pf cleaning the hair of Gorilla. Female gorillas groom their offspring while does not groom others.
Predators and Threats
The main threat to Mountain Gorillas comes from the destruction of their habitats and poaching. This has caused serious threats to the future of these species. However, conservationist have established an International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) to protect the last remaining Mountain Gorillas through protection their habitats, regional collaboration and working with the local communities.
Reproduction and Baby Gorillas
Mountain gorillas have a slow rate of production. This makes it more threaten.
Female Gorillas give birth at the age of 10-12 years for the first time and will have children every 4 years or even more. New born baby gorillas weigh about 4 pounds. Female gorillas look after their offspring. The babies learn to creep at 2 months and can walk before they are 9 months old. (Earlier than normal human beings). They usually grab their mother’s hair to ride on their back at 4 months.
Did You Know?
- Gorillas and Humans are 98% genetically alike.
- Male silverback gorillas can weigh 50-100 pounds more - and are about 10 times stronger - than the biggest American football players.
- The silverback will protect others gorillas at the cost of his life when they are attacked by dangerous animals like humans, leopards, or other gorillas.
- Gorillas are very intelligent and can form simple sentences and communicate to people
- Gorillas can not swim