Mountain gorillas are one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. Mountain gorillas re an endangered species which had been listed as critically endangered up until 2018 when a significant number of gorillas were added to the already existing mountain gorilla population thanks to the extensive conservation efforts of different sector players. Mountain gorillas are recorded to be slightly about 1000 still left in the entire world, divided into two populations in which the mountain gorillas do inhabit.
Mountain gorillas are endemic to the Virunga Massifs which encompass the Virunga National Park located in the eastern part of the Congo, Volcanoes National Park located in the north western region of Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park located in the south western part of Uganda; as well as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south western region of Uganda still, which inhabits more than half the total world population of mountain gorillas. these habitats of mountain gorillas have very dense vegetation cover nd high elevations making the areas cloudy misty and cold. Mountain gorillas live in these high altitude areas which range from 2200-4300m above sea level. Mountain gorillas do not live in captivity, and can only be found in the above mentioned African countries. Mountain gorillas inhabit dense rainforests of the Virunga Mountain ranges and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which have high altitude ranges that mountain gorillas do opt to go to sometimes, hence the name mountain gorillas.
Characteristics of mountain gorillas
- Mountain gorillas have much thicker and longer fur than that of any other gorilla species, which characteristic enables them to live in the dense rainforests with high altitude areas that have much colder temperatures.
- Mountain gorillas have nose prints each unique from the other, thus making it possible to easily identify one from another; no wonder the habituated mountain gorillas even have individual names like Rafiki, one of the most prominent silverbacks in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which was unfortunately killed by poachers in 2020.
- Male mountain gorillas can reach a standing height of 161-171cm, with an arm span of 2-2.7m while the weight can range from 120-191kgs.
- Females on the other hand are smaller in weight ranging from 70-98kgs
- Mountain gorillas have dark brown eyes framed by a black ring around the iris.
Male mountain gorillas have black fur and are called black backs, until when they do mature to have a swathe of silver hair straddle their back, hence becoming silverbacks. Silverbacks are usually the heads of the families: yes, mountain gorillas do live in families that you may call gorilla families or gorilla groups, with members ranging from 5 to not more than 30 individuals usually. Silverbacks head the gorilla family nd hence do all the decision making in the family like from where to eat, where to nest, and so much more. Silverbacks are also responsible for the security of the gorilla family and they do protect the members from harm and attacks from the enemy including humans usually poachers. Silverbacks protect their families with even their lives.
Mountain gorillas are primarily terrestrial and quadrupedal, though they can sometimes climb trees to reach out for fruits and foliage in higher trees. Mountain gorillas can actually knuckle-walk while supporting its mighty weight on the backs of its curved fingers instead of the palms.
Mountain gorillas spend most times of their day eating, very large quantities of food in order to sustain their massive body size. Usually, mountain gorillas forage in the early mornings then rest midmorning and then forage yet again in the afternoon until when they do retire. Mountain gorillas make for themselves nests in which they spend the night. Mountain gorillas make nests every single day depending on where they are meant to stay for the night as dictated by the silverback. The gorillas are early risers, usually waking up at 6am with the exception of when it is very cold and overcast where they instead sleep in.
Mountain gorillas were up until 2018 critically endangered. With the immense conservation efforts of different conservationists however, the population of mountain gorillas has significantly increased, and are no longer listed as critically endangered but rather endangered and with continued efforts, the mountain gorilla population shall indeed keep increasing every other year.
Travelers interested in encountering these endangered mountain gorillas can actually do so with gorilla safaris. Gorilla trekking which takes travelers hiking the dense rainforests to encounter the mountain gorillas has travelers spending at most 1 hour with the gorillas, while gorilla habituation experiences can have travelers pending about 4 hours with the gorillas, observing nd learning of their behaviors and characters. Gorilla safaris can be arranged any time of the year, in any of the four gorilla destinations. Just you reach out to reputable gorilla tour operators for amazing mountain gorilla safaris, and more.