The 10 most interesting facts about mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas are generally fascinating primates but a few more specific scientific facts make these gentle giants even more interesting. These 10 most interesting facts about mountain gorillas will make you fall deeper in love with these awesome apes.
Mountain gorillas are of two species
The first and foremost fact about mountain gorillas is that there are only two known species; the eastern (Gorilla beringei) and the western (Gorilla gorilla). Each of these two species is further split into two sub-species; the eastern lowland gorilla, eastern mountain gorillas, western lowland gorilla, and western cross river gorillas respectively. The famous mountain gorilla sub-species fall under the eastern gorilla category.
About 1,063 mountain gorillas in the wild
About 1,063 mountain gorillas exist in the wild. Out of this population, an estimated 450 individuals (half of the global population) live in the misty slopes of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and the rest are shared between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park respectively.
Mountain gorillas have a close relation to humans
Mountain gorillas are closely related to humans. They share a DNA of around 98% with humans. This genetic similarity is the reason as to why mountain gorillas are susceptible to human illnesses. Common flu and cough are the most common human infections that can easily be transmitted to mountain gorillas. Travelers suffering from these communicable diseases are not allowed to visit these primates so as to avoid contraction by the mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are found in only 3 countries
In the wild, mountain gorillas exist in only three countries in Africa. They live in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the D.R.C, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Any traveler intending to do gorilla trekking must visit at least one of these gorilla sanctuaries to see these awesome apes.
Mountain gorillas live in family groups
Mountain gorillas are very social primates and live in family groups. Family groups differ in size, with an average mountain gorilla family consisting of around 10 individuals. Each family is headed by the dominant male called a silverback who is responsible for the protection of all the family members. The dominant silverback together with other silverbacks in the family will fight silverbacks from a different family to the point of death to protect and defend their members especially the females and infants against intruders. About 22 mountain gorilla families live in Uganda.
Mountain gorillas live more than 40 years in the wild
Mountain gorillas have a lifespan of over 40 years in the wild. The common threats to mountain gorillas in the wild are humans and diseases. Human activities such as encroachment and poaching have resulted in the death of several mountain gorillas in the wild.
In captivity, mountain gorillas can live more than 50 years due to improved conditions such as better health care and diet.
Mountain gorillas are susceptible to human diseases
Since mountain gorillas share a DNA of about 98% with humans, they are vulnerable to human diseases such as hepatitis A, tuberculosis, common cold, and cough. Because of this, travelers are not allowed to visit the gorillas if they have a cold or other infectious illness. Also while trekking, if you must sneeze or cough, cover your face and turn away from the gorillas. Should nature call while in the forest, human waste should be buried 30cm deep.
Largest of all primates
Mountain gorillas are the largest of all primates. On average, an adult male mountain gorilla (silverback) can weigh over 180kgs and measure over 170cm in height.
Mountain gorillas are largely herbivores
Their diet consists of mainly leaves, stems, roots, and flowers to mention. They eat all day and a male silverback can take up to 18 kgs of vegetation daily. The heavy diet is attributed to the cold nature of their habitat which requires them to eat a lot so as to keep their bodies warm.
Gestation period similar to that of humans
Mountain gorillas have a gestation period equivalent to that of humans (8.5 to 9 months), giving birth to one live baby which usually weighs about 2kgs. They also occasionally give birth to twins.