Learn the Behavior of the Gorillas in the Wild

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Learn the Behavior of the Gorillas in the Wild

Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are shy, social animals whose lives are generally peaceful and quiet. Gorillas belong to a group of mammals called primates, which includes humans. Like other mammals, primates are warm blooded, give birth to live babies, and feed their young ones with milk produced by mammary glands. They live in family groups of between 2and 40 members. The average contains 10 or 12 animals of all the great apes; gorillas have the most stable family groups. And each group usually consists of 1 dominant silverback, at least one blackback, several mature females, a few young adults and juveniles, and several infants.

Lowland Gorillas Vs Mountain Gorillas

Gorillas are native to the forests in Africa. There are two species of gorillas; the Eastern gorillas and the western gorillas. Within each species, there are two subspecies;

  • The mountain gorilla and the Eastern lowland gorillas that belong to the Eastern gorilla
  • The Cross River gorillas and the Western Lowland gorilla that belong to the Western Gorilla.

The mountain gorillas live high in the montane forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and the Virunga Mountains while the other 3 species live in lower, warmer areas and so are collectively known as lowland gorillas.

Mountain gorillas are larger in size than lowland gorillas. Their chests are broader, their hands and feet are wider, and their teeth are longer.  You can meet these great apes

Zoos only have lowland gorillas since mountain gorillas can’t breed in captivity. A lot more is known about mountain gorillas than lowland because it is much harder to find and follow animals in flat tropical vegetation than in mountain forests.

How Do Gorillas Live?

Mountain gorillas spend 30% of their day eating, 30% traveling and playing, and 40% resting and sleeping. Gorillas get around in the forest by knuckle-walking using both their arms and legs; they put their weight on their knuckles as they move around the forest.

Typical day in the life of a mountain gorilla group will see them rise at daybreak to travel and feed in the morning. They feed as they move, but will usually find an open area where they can be seen out and eat at a leisurely pace. They will take a long rest at midday when they can be seen lounging around, tolerantly fending off boisterous infants and farting continuously and contentedly. The whole afternoon will have them again moving and eating before bedding down at dusk.

Threats to Gorillas

Also, lowland gorillas have traditionally been hunted for their meat, so they are more afraid of humans, making them harder to approach and study.

What to Know About Gorilla Families

Both have very close-knit families and put great care into raising their babies. Mature male gorillas tend to leave their groups and establish their own troops by attracting emigrating females. However, male mountain gorillas sometimes stay in their natal troops and become subordinate to the silverback. If the silverback dies, these males may be able to become dominant or mate with the females. This behavior has not been observed in eastern lowland gorillas.

In a single male group, when the silverback dies, the females and their offspring disperse and find a new troop. Without a silverback to protect them, the infants will likely fall victim to infanticide.  The silverback is the center of the troop’s attention, making all the decisions, meditating conflicts, determining the movements of the group, leading others to feeding sites, and taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the troop.

The bond that a silverback has with his females forms the core of gorilla social life. Bonds between them are maintained by grooming and staying close together. Females form strong relationships with males to gain mating opportunities and protection from predators and infanticidal outside males.

However, aggressive behaviors between males and females do occur, but rarely lead to serious injury.  Maternally related females in a troop tend to be friendly towards each other and associate closely. Otherwise, females have few friendly encounters and commonly act aggressively towards each other. Females may fight for social access to males and a male may intervene.

Male gorillas have weak social bonds, particularly in multiple-male groups with apparent dominance hierarchies and strong competition for mates. Males in all-male groups, tough tend to have friendly interactions and socialize through play, grooming and staying together, and occasionally they even engage in homosexual interactions. Severe aggression is rare in stable groups, but when two mountain gorilla groups meet, the two silverbacks can sometimes engage in a fight to death using their canines to cause deep, gaping injuries.

 

Gorilla Nests

Gorillas construct ‘’beds’’ to sleep in at the end of the day.  The presence of sufficient nesting material determines the location in which they bed.  They gather vegetation around in trees or on the ground. Gorillas construct a new nest each night because they travel to different locations during the day foraging.

The daily construction of new nests also helps avoid parasites that may nest in the bedding. Nest construction varies, but usually consists of bent/broken vines and branches formed around and underneath each individual. Infants sleep in their mother’s nest until they are about 3 years of age.

However, some offspring as young as 8 months practice nest building. Nests function to keep the gorillas off the cold ground, prevent them slipping down a slope, or support them in a tree during the night. Researchers can identify the size, age, activity and make-up of a gorilla troop based on their nests.

Would you like to observe the life of the gorillas in the wild? Why not travel into the gorillaland and come to learn first hand about the great apes, their behavior and how they survive in the wild. You can get started with planning to travel to Uganda, Rwanda or Congo and get to reality with the gorillas’ world.

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