‘Africa’s gentle giants’
The mountain Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla berengie) remains the worlds most rare and critically endangered fully developed senses like humans. Humans share 97% of the same genes with Gorillas and 98% with chimpanzees.
There are total of 880 mountain gorillas in the world (census 2012). 480 mountain gorillas in the Virunga massif which comprises Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Uganda),Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda) and Virunga National Park (DRC),and now the 400 which has been confirmed in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is entirely in Uganda
There are 36 gorilla families in Bwindi and 16 solitary males. Of the 36 troupes, 10 are habituated for tourism and research.
Mountain gorillas live in family troupe that vary in size from 5 to 35 members. A troupe is made up of one or two adult males (aged 12 and above, called silverbacks), several younger males (named Black backs), adult females, juveniles and infants. The dominant silverback (identified by the saddle of silvery white hair on his back) leads the group’s daily movements in search for food, protects the troupe from outside intruders and signs of danger, usually relating to intruding silverbacks of from another group, dangerous animals like buffaloes and poachers
How gorillas communicate
Mountain gorillas mainly use facial expressions, sounds, gestures and postures to communicate with each other. When the gorillas feel threatened, they make an assortment of loud sounds like roars or screams and the males might bit their chests to scare off an opponent. Gorillas also make happy and contented noises especially when resting after a meal. This sound is sometimes like a soft grunting and is called a “belch vocalization.”
How they Grow & what they eat
Adult male Gorillas grow to over 200Kgs, females can reach up to 90Kgs. A silverback standing upright during a chest beating display, can be as tall as 1.8m. Gorillas are vegetarians; they eat bamboo shoots, giant thistles, crunchy wild cherries and a variety of other different fruits and food plants. Gorillas can live over 50 years.
Where they live
Mountain Gorillas live in high-altitude mountain forests with a dense herb layer and abundance of fruit and their forest travels range between 1500m to 3,400 m above see level