Mountain Gorillas

Categories Mountain Gorillas

About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) are a subspecies of eastern gorillas and are one of the two species of gorillas found in Africa, the other being the western gorillas. They are native to the mountainous regions of central Africa, specifically the Virunga Mountains, which span across Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered and are considered one of the most endangered species on the planet.
Physical Characteristics:
Mountain gorillas are characterized by their large size and robust build. Adult males, known as silverbacks due to the silver hair that develops on their backs with age, can weigh up to 400 pounds (180 kilograms) and stand about 5.6 feet (1.7 meters) tall when on all fours. Females are smaller, weighing around 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and standing about 4.6 feet (1.4 meters) tall.
They have a thick black coat of fur that helps them withstand the cold temperatures in their high-altitude habitats. The fur also serves as protection against thorny vegetation found in their environment. Mountain gorillas have longer hair compared to other gorilla species, which helps them adapt to the colder climate.
Habitat and Distribution:
Mountain gorillas inhabit montane forests at elevations ranging from 8,000 to 13,000 feet (2,400 to 4,000 meters) above sea level. They primarily reside in two protected areas: the Virunga Massif and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
The Virunga Massif is a volcanic mountain range shared by Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It consists of three national parks: Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These parks provide a crucial habitat for mountain gorillas, as well as other unique wildlife.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is located in southwestern Uganda and is another important stronghold for mountain gorillas. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its exceptional biodiversity.
Behavior and Social Structure:
Mountain gorillas live in cohesive social groups called troops or bands, which are led by a dominant silverback male. The silverback is responsible for protecting the group and making important decisions. Troops typically consist of several adult females, their offspring, and sometimes one or more subordinate males.
These gorillas are primarily herbivorous, with their diet consisting mainly of leaves, shoots, stems, fruits, and flowers. They spend a significant portion of their day feeding, as their large size requires a substantial amount of food to sustain themselves.
Mountain gorillas are generally peaceful animals and exhibit non-aggressive behavior towards humans unless they feel threatened. They communicate through a variety of vocalizations, including grunts, roars, barks, and chest-beating displays. They also use body language such as facial expressions and postures to convey messages within their social group.
Conservation Status and Threats:
Mountain gorillas face numerous threats to their survival, primarily due to human activities. Habitat loss and fragmentation caused by deforestation, agriculture expansion, and human settlement pose significant challenges to their long-term survival. Additionally, illegal activities such as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade further endanger these magnificent creatures.
Efforts to conserve mountain gorillas have been ongoing for several decades. Conservation organizations, governments, local communities, and international stakeholders collaborate to protect their habitats, enforce anti-poaching measures, and promote sustainable tourism practices.
The conservation initiatives have yielded positive results over the years. The population of mountain gorillas has shown a steady increase, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. According to the most recent census conducted in 2018, the estimated population of mountain gorillas has reached over 1,000 individuals.