Silverback gorillas live high in the mountains in two protected parks in Africa. They are also referred to as mountain gorillas. The silverback gorilla is a type of ape found in the tropical rain forests. Silverback gorillas continually wander through their home ranges of 10 to 15 square miles, feeding and resting throughout the day. Because gorillas are nomadic, they build new nests each day at dusk, constructing them out of bent branches in a tree or using grasses on the ground. Silverback gorillas have long black hair and their thick, shaggy coats help to them keep them warm in cold climates. Adult male gorillas are called silverbacks because of the silver saddle of hair on their backs.
Mountain gorillas have a stocky build, with a broad chest, long, muscular arms and wide feet and hands. Their arms are longer than their legs. Gorillas live in groups, each gorilla family with a silverback as the leader to protect and scare away other animals that may tempt to harm them, while protecting the other gorillas, it stands erect on its hind legs, tearing up and throwing plants, drumming on its chest with its hands and fist, stamping its feet hard on the ground, striking the ground with its palms and galloping in a mock attack on all fours.
Silverback male gorillas are around six feet tall while the females are around five feet tall. Silverback gorillas weigh approximately 350 pounds about twice the weight of normal adult man. Gorillas are herbivores, and eat only plants. They spend most of their day foraging for food and eating bamboo and leafy plants. Silverback gorillas were not even known to exist until 1902.
The fact that mountain gorillas are roughly 1000 in existence today reflects what humans have done to the population. Today, their habitat is being destroyed when people use land for farming and cut trees for different purposes. And this is one of the reasons why mountain gorillas have become the most endangered species of gorilla. Poachers who capture and kill these animals to make a profit are also contributing to their decline. If aggressive action is not taken to preserve gorillas and their habitat, kids in future generations may never know what it’s like to see a real gorilla.
General facts about the silverback gorillas;
- Their natural habitat is the tropical rain forest of central Africa.
- Silverback gorillas can live from 40-50 years and slightly longer in captivity.
- Silverback gorilla is the name given to the adult male gorillas because of the silvery fur running across their backs and hips.
- Gorillas and humans have a very similar genetic make-up. They both share 98% DNA.
- They live in groups or communities with a clearly defined social structure. A dominant Alpa leads the group of other males, females, and young in daily activities such as eating and sleeping.
- Adult gorillas are approximately six times as strong as a man.
- Gorillas are mainly herbivores that feast on a variety of plants, roots, herbs, fruits, bamboo, tree bark and occasionally, insects. Adults can easily eat up to 66 pounds (30kg) of food per day.
- Standing up to 6 feet tall (182 cm) with arms that extend up to 8 feet (243 cm) wide, gorillas are the largest living primates.
- Gorillas are known for being very intelligent animals. In the wild they communicate through vocalizations, body language, facial expressions and gestures. In capacity they have been known to learn sign language.
- Gorillas spend the morning and evening hours actively searching for and eating food while midday is spent playing and resting. Each evening they make their own nests, mostly out of vegetation, before going to sleep for approximately 13 hours.
- Although generally quiet and calm animals, they can become aggressive towards one another. Dominant males, in particular, will beat their chest, scream, roar and bark while standing upright in a show of power.
Would you like to see silverback gorillas? Why not book a gorilla trek to Rwanda, Uganda or DR Congo and get to meet these amazing apes in the wild of Africa.