Amongst the three recognized speciaes of the gorillas in the world, Mountain Gorillas are the rarest and the most endangered.. . Half of the mountain gorillas live in Uganda......
Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Forest, Western Uganda
A gorilla is the bulkiest member of the primate family; an adult gorilla may grow up to 1.8m high (although they seldom stand fully upright). There are three species of gorillas recognized world wide. The most common race, the western lowland gorillas (G. g. gorilla) is not present in Uganda but an estimated 40000 live in the rainforests of west and central Africa. The endangered eastern lowland gorilla (G. g. graueri) is restricted to patches of forests in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The most threatened specie is the mountain gorilla (G. g. beringei). Their total number is estimated to be only 700. Half of these mountain gorillas lie in Uganda. The mountain gorillas have become Uganda’s most major attraction and a truly Ugandan safari cannot be complete without tracking the mountain gorilla from Bwindi or Mgahinga National park!. Looking into the dark brown eyes of these mammals is quite the most memorable adventure activity that Uganda other than any other destination in the world can offer.
Mountain Gorillas are characterized with a number of different features;
They generally have longer hair than the other subspecies.
Their arms are longer than their legs. Whenever they are walking, they quadrupely knuckle walk, while supporting their weight on the third and fourth digits of their curled hands.
Like humans and other primates, each individual gorilla has distinctive fingerprints.
Looking at their size the male mountain gorillas are bigger than their female counterparts. Adult males have silvery white fur at their backs that inspired the name silverback. It is this silverback which heads the family.
Standing on two legs, an adult mountain gorilla stands about five and a half feet, weighing between 300 and 400 pounds. Females on average weigh only 200 pounds.
Habitat of the Gorillas
Mountain gorillas live in tropical moist forests. In Uganda they are found in the Afro-montane forests of Mgahinga Gorilla National park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park. They can also be found in Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo with in the Virunga volcanoes.
Food and Diet
Mountain gorillas are mainly herbivorous animals. They feed on leaves, stems of herbs, shrubs and vines. They also feed on rotten wood and small animals. At times they raid farms. Male gorillas can eat up to 32 Kilogrammes of food per day while their female counterparts eat two thirds of that.
Life Span of the Gorillas
Gorillas may live about 35 years in the wild, and up to 54 years in zoos. In Uganda gorillas can only be found in the wild since Uganda has taken an ecotourism path aimed at enhancing sustainable conservation and tourism development that benefits both the present and future generations.
Reproduction amongst the Mountain Gorillas
Female mountain gorillas reach puberty stage at around 7-9 years. They usually don’t breed until 10 years. The gestation period of a gorilla is eight and a half months. On the other hand male mountain gorillas rarely breed below 15 years. This is because there is always competition for access to females given that at times there is male dominance of the females in the family.
Gorillas live in groups/ territories which are formed by the males after bloody battles. In each group there is always one or more silver backs and 2-10 females and young ones. Though mountain gorillas are peaceful animals the silverbacks always kill the young ones not sired by them. This is aimed at stopping the captured females from weaning so that they can reproduce in the shortest time possible. Gorillas always feed in the morning, spend the middle of the day playing, glooming or sleeping while at night they fashion nests from where they live.