There are over 1000 mountain gorillas surviving in the world. Mountain Gorillas live in the mountains of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. These fascinating creatures live in the impenetrable forest jungles of the lowlands and highlands of Africa.
These endangered creatures can only be tracked in bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park in Uganda, Mgahinga national park also in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in the Democratic republic of Congo. Gorilla tracking permits cost $1500 in Rwanda, $600 in Uganda and $400 in Congo. Uganda also offers gorilla habituation experience at $1500 giving you 4 hours learning how the Mountain Gorillas get trained by UWA researchers. Trekking this unique primate specie in the African countries rewards you with a life time experience you will never forget. Some of the characteristics of gorillas are discussed below.
The mountain gorilla is confined to mountainous forests in just two main areas in Africa, the Virunga range of extinct volcanic mountains of DR Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has been a sanctuary for these species, providing a refuge from human activity.
Gorillas live in bamboo forests that are covered with dense patches of bamboo plants. Bamboo grows tall and quickly, up to one foot per day. Some bamboo plants can even reach 130 feet tall. They also live in high altitude forests that have low canopy cover and contain many species of plants that grow on other plants. Gorillas live in groups of 10-15 members in the family, the family is led by a silverback which is in control. When it glows, it acquires silver-grey hair across the bark; the hair differentiates it from other gorillas which have dark skin and black to brown-grey hair.
With the cold condition of the its habitat, the mountain gorilla has long fur to help it survive in these harsh environment in the forest. These animals are quite large, sometimes weighing up to 440 pounds and standing up to six feet tall. This long black fur and large mass help keep it warm even below freezing temperatures in the mountains. Males tend to grow a patch of silver fur on their back giving them the nickname, ‘silverbacks.’ This feature, as well as their long teeth and jaws, and shorter arms distinguish them from other gorilla species.
Mountain Gorillas are distinguished by their shape and wrinkles in the nose called ‘nose prints’, and unlike monkeys, mountain Gorillas do not have tails.
Mountain Gorillas have large muscles in their arms than in legs this is because they use their arm strength for gathering, and bending although they often walk on their four limbs.
The arms are longer than the legs, they have about 30cm arm span longer than that of humans. Their upper body is 6 times powerful than that of humans enabling them to squeeze and lift heavy objects.
The mountain gorilla is omnivorous, meaning it eats animals and plants though its diet is quite different from human vegetarians except for fruits. Over 80% of their diet is made of leaves, shoots, and stems which can come from bamboo or other plants. Mountain gorillas will break open bamboo stocks or trees to find insects like ants, grubs and snails. Mountain gorilla enjoys fresh fruit like passion fruit and banana but only a few species grow in the forest, fruit only makes up about 20% of its diet.
Mountain gorilla families are headed by silverbacks. Usually an older dominant male silverback takes charge to organize daily activities such as eating, nesting and migrating around its territory. The male in charge keeps its dominant status by standing upright, pounding his chest and bellowing deep cries, and even throwing things to assert his dominance. This male silver back is also responsible for the security of the group in case they sense danger o if an intruder is approaching.