15 Facts about Mountain Gorillas
15 facts about mountain gorillas are those features and aspects about the mountain gorillas that are widely known and worth to note by any traveler intending to visit them. Mountain gorillas are an endangered ape species that up until 2018 were listed as critically endangered. Mountain gorillas are a rear species that is found only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park of Uganda and in the Virunga Massif Area that encompasses Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda again. Given that they are found not elsewhere in the world, and with a few only still remaining as well as their amazing beauty and gentility, mountain gorillas are highly sought after by tourists for a gorilla trekking experience. Gorilla trekking in Africa is one thrilling activity that leaves travellers awestruck upon encountering the gorillas. With the following 15 facts about mountain gorillas, travellers are sure to know a little more of the mountain gorillas before they even encounter them on a gorilla trekking adventure.
The 15 Facts about Mountain gorillas are;
- Around 1,063 mountain gorillas still exist in the wild. Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of the eastern gorilla. Before the 2018 mountain gorilla census results, there were less than 1000 mountain gorillas in the wild, that had them being listed critically endangered and feared to get extinct in the near future. As per the 2018 mountain gorilla census, the mountain gorilla population was at 1,063 individuals in the wild but with the many births and gorilla additions in various gorilla groups, the number is surely skyrocketing.
- Mountain gorillas are in two isolated groups, with one group in the Virunga Massif Area spanning 3 national parks in the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, with the other group in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. It is in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that more than 459 mountain gorillas can be found, making it the one gorilla park to have the highest population, with the rest of the population being distributed in the 3 gorilla parks of the Virunga Massif Area.
- Mountain gorillas share about 98% DNA with humans. This means that almost what we humans can do the gorillas can. We have similar behaviors with them like living in families, caring for the infants, among others. This also means that human illnesses like Ebola, flu, cough, among others, including the recent Coronavirus disease that is ravaging the world, can be caught by the gorillas. A mere cold got by a mountain gorilla can have detrimental impacts on the gorillas. For this reason, rules like not visiting gorillas when sick, maintaining a 7-meter distance away from the gorillas, not touching the gorillas, were put in place majorly to protect the mountain gorillas from possibly being infected by human infections. When planning to visit mountain gorillas or when encountering them, please remember to follow the set rules for the benefit of gorilla health and consequently conservation that many generations ahead could have an opportunity to meet them too.
- Gorillas have nose prints that are unique to each individual, just like every human has unique fingerprints. These nose prints are used for easy identification.
- Gorillas have hands and feet that are just like those of humans, with the same number of fingers and toes, and can move them about just like humans do. Gorillas can stand on twos and use the hands like humans, and can also walk on fours, depending on what they choose.
- Mountain gorillas live in family groups. These family groups are usually stable with one dominant silverback who heads the family. They break up though, when adult males or silverback deem themselves worthy to head the family. It is the one that wins the fight that heads the family, and the losing individual leaves the family to form his own, in most cases taking some members of the original family as others join them along the way. Mountain gorilla families can have anything from 5-25 or more members. Both males and females in a gorilla family care for infants say carrying them, play with them, comforting them, and the like.
- When a male gorilla matures, its back turns grey and thus becomes a silverback.
- Female gorillas start breeding at 10 years, with a gestation period of 8-9 months. They usually give birth every 4-5 years.
- Gorillas can eat all day long, if they choose to. Mountain gorillas feed on leaves, shoots and are also known to eat small insects like ants, as well as bark and snails. A male gorilla can eat up to 50 pounds a day. They rarely drink water.
- Mountain gorillas cosy up at night, in their newly made nests that are made every single day given they don’t stay in the same place. They sleep together in nests made from foliage, and infants share with their mothers a nest and get to be kept warm and protected.
- Gorillas have human emotions that they can laugh when tickled, cry when hurt, be sad, and can be very protective of their young ones, just like humans.
- Mountain gorillas have 16 different types of call or sounds or communication, for example short barks when mildly alarmed or curious, roars, hoots and thumping chest to intimidate their rivals or threat, among others.
- Gorillas can live for more than 40 years while in the wild, but their average lifespan is 35 years.
- A male gorilla can weigh up to 400 pounds while the female up to 200 pounds. This makes gorillas one of the strongest animal species and the largest primates, more than 4 times stronger than any adult male human.
- Gorillas are under threat, with the main threat being habit loss to encroachers and human activity in the parks say mining, agriculture and deforestation. Poaching gorillas for wild meat is another threat, with gorillas falling into snares most times meant for other animals, they get injured and most times succumb to the injuries.