Gorillas are herbivorous apes inhabiting the forests of central Africa. They are divided into two;
- Eastern Gorilla
- Western Gorilla
Gorillas are the most powerful and striking animals not only for their size and force but also their gentle human like behaviour . The DNA of gorillas is similar to that of humans from 95%-99%. Gorillas are totally different from monkeys for a variety of reasons, gorillas have got a more developed brain like that of humans, they are larger, have got no tails, they walk upright for a longer period of time . Gorillas are highly intelligent and they use sign language, they can laugh and the same time be sad, they grieve, and have a rich emotional live, they develop very strong family bonds. Gorillas live in groups called troops, they are ground dwelling and they live in groups of 6-12 with the oldest and largest silverback leading a family of females. The silverback makes decisions on when his group wakes up, sleeps, eats, moves, and when to rest night. He protects his family at all times from the enemies. The silverback tends to be very aggressive. Gorillas construct a nest on where to sleep at night with leaves or any other plant materials. Mother gorillas share nests with their nursing infants. Young ones tend to leave their family as they grow older.
Each time of the day has its purpose for a troop of gorillas. Mornings and evenings are feeding time. In the middle of the day gorillas take a nap, play with one another or groom one another. At night gorillas settle down in beds made of leaves and twigs.
WHAT GORILLAS EAT
Gorillas are generally herbivores and usually their diet depends on where they live. Mountain gorillas mostly eat foliage, such as leaves, stems, pith, shoots, fruits, veins, tree pulp, celery, tree bark, roots. They basically eat vegetation.
Gorillas lifespan is normally between 35- 40 years. Zoo gorillas may live 50 years or even more.
CHARACTERISTICS OF GORILLAS
Gorillas are the largest primates. They are stock animals with broad chest and shoulders, larger hands and fore arms that are much shorter than the upper arm. The face is black and hairless with small eyes that are close together and a large prominent nostrils.
Adults are called silverbacks with an area of white hair on their back. Adult males are identified by a sagittal crest along the midline of the skull.
Gorillas have got patchy distribution.
Gorilla infants are helpless at birth and weigh 3–4 lbs. They learn to crawl about 2 months and walk by the time they are 8-9 months. Gorilla mothers nurse their babies up to 3–4 years.
Mating season: Thought out the year.
Gestation period; 8 – 5 months.
- Mountain Gorillas live in Uganda, Rwanda, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and on green and also in the volcanic mountains. Mountain gorillas are the most common specie habituated for tourism. Travelers can visit the habituated families on gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
- Eastern Lowland gorillas live in Eastern Congo – Kahuzi Biega National Park and Maiko National Park
- Western Lowland gorillas are found with in 6 countries and live with the forests of central and Western Africa.
CLASSIFICATION OR TAXONOMY:
The classification or taxonomy of gorillas according to the Integrated Taxonic Information System (ITIS) is as follows:
Sub kingdom : Bilateria
Infra kingdom : Deuterostomia
Sub phylum: Vertebrata
Infra phylum: Gnathostomata
Super class: Tetrapoda
Sub class: Theria
Infra class: Eutheria
Order : Primates
Sub order: Haplorrhini
Infra order: Simiiformes
Super family: Hominoidea
Sub family: Homininae
Genus and species: Gorilla gorilla, Gorilla beringei
Sub species: Gorilla gorilla gorilla ( Western lowland gorilla)
- Gorilla gorilladiehli ( Cross River gorilla)
- Gorilla beringei graueri ( Eastern lowland gorilla )
- Gorilla beringei beringei ( Mountain gorilla)
Mountain Gorilla Facts
Get all the facts about the mountain gorillas of Uganda and find out how these primates survive as you plan for your Uganda gorilla safari.
Prominence: Threatened species description:
A gorilla is an enormous tail-less ape which is covered with black hair. The type of gorilla found in Uganda is the mountain Gorilla and this differs from the West African forest gorilla in size. From the three gorilla sub species in the world, the mountain gorilla is the largest and rarest and is remarkably the strongest, with a short trunk and a broad chest and shoulders.
Where to find mountain gorillas
This endangered species can be found in the Central African Republic, South western Uganda and in Rwanda. They are found in four national parks of Bwindi Impenetrable National park, Mgahinga National park, Volcano National park and Virunga National park. Bwindi Impenetrable National park lies in South western Uganda on the edge of the rift valley and is a home of about 400 mountain gorilla species. Mgahinga National park is located high in the clouds, at an altitude of between 2,227 meters and 4,127m and was created to protect these rare primates inhabiting the dense forests.
Magnitude, population and life span of a mountain gorillas:
A Silver back normally stretches six feet tall when it is standing straight, balancing approximately four hundred to five hundred pounds. This makes it the largest great ape bigger than chimpanzees. The females are relatively lesser compared to the males and stand an average of about four to five feet, weighing about one hundred fifty to two hundred pounds. Following a census which was conducted in 2011 in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the confirms a minimum population of about 400 gorillas and their is 53 years in captivity.
Well, females get matured at the age of seven years though they do not produce until they are ten years of age and one silver back mates with several females. The males usually mature later than females and are very strong enough to reproduce between fifteen and Twenty years of age, with young ones being breed year round. They breed at the age of 10 (females) with a gestation period of eight to nine months
Diet and Eating habits of Mountain gorillas:
The food of mountain gorillas vary by category and seasonality. The western low land eats parts at least 97 plant species with about 67 percent of their diet being fruits, 17 percent being leaves, stems and seeds and only 3 percent being caterpillars.
Food Intake and methods of collecting food
A mature male swallows more than 18 kilograms of vegetation per day and drink rarely in the wild because they eat delicious vegetation that is composed of almost half water as well as morning dew. They usually use their incredible strength to break apart vegetation and eat only the leaves, pith, stalk or roots of a particular plant. They do not over exploit an area for food where crop vegetation in a manner that allows for quick replenishment. In their diet, 86 percent is composed of leaves, 7 percent is composed of roots, 3 percent is composed of flowers and 2 percent is composed of snails and grubs. They use their absurd strength to break apart vegetation and an adult can shred apart a whole banana tree to get the interior tender pith.
Senses of Mountain gorillas
Brightness of mountain gorillas is always limited by dense flora, hearing is important for these elegant apes to locate another and to detect danger. They appear to reply to unusual noises that are not part of their normal activity.
Mountain gorillas have a good vision which is used for finding and recognizing diet and to detect movement. Throughout the daytime, herbivores perhaps have color vision which is a useful adaption for finding ripening fruits in treetops.
They have got good intellect of smell and are very able to detect strong odors in the environment such as human sweat or the musk of an unknown ape. In most cases, males use females odor to determine her reproductive status.
Conservation efforts to mountain gorillas:
Fears to the survival of mountain gorillas:
The main threat to these primates comes from forest clearance which comes as a result of human population struggling to earn a living in search of land for agriculture and competition for resources such as firewood. Since they are closely related to humans with similar anatomical and physical features it makes gorillas vulnerable to diseases which affect humans.
Active protection of the primates include frequent patrols in wildlife areas, which destroys poacher equipment and weapons, prompt law enforcement, census counts in regions of breeding and ranging concentration, strong safe guards for the limited habitat that animals occupy.
Community – based conservation
Community based preservation includes protection for involving the local community in the practice of conservation. The process seeks equity in meeting the needs of the people who stay with tourism resources and preserving the protected area as well. The local people need to be involved in verdict making process.
The future of mountain gorillas
It has been found out that many people now acknowledge that, to achieve success in any future conservation efforts of mountain gorillas, all stake holders must be involved. Since humans are very close to the proximity of the apes, it is important that conservation accomplishment widely use rain forest resources.