Gorillas

Gorillas are a primate specie which share close DNA with human beings. The gorillas are among the four great apes close to human beings in DNA the other apes being chimpanzees, Orangutans and bonobos.

The gorillas have four subspecies;

  • the mountain gorillas and the Eastern lowland gorillas that belong the Eastern gorilla
  • the Western lowland gorillas and the cross river gorillas that belong to the Western gorilla

The lowland gorillas are found in Democratic republic of Congo where are the mountain gorillas live in the Virunga mountain ranges and Bwindi impenetrable Forest National park.

The mountain gorillas are endangered specie with less than 1000 gorillas remaining in the world. Half of the mountain gorillas live in Virunga mountain ranges, which is shared by Rwanda, DR congo and Uganda. In Rwanda, the gorillas live in Volcanoes National Park, in Uganda, the live in Mgahinga National park and in DR Congo, they live in Virunga National Park. The other remaining half live in Bwindi impenetrable Forest National park.

For over the years, there was much poaching going on in the parks with poachers selling the gorilla feet as well as eating the gorillas’ meat. Also, there was human encroachment on the forest in search of wood and medicinal plants which affected the habitat for the gorillas, there by endangering them. This led to the gorilla population decreasing to almost extinction. It was the intervention on Dian Fossey, an American Primatologist who committed her life to conserving the lives of the gorillas and making research. This greatly improved the plight of the mountain gorillas until the very people she was protecting from the gorillas assassinated her in 1986.

Poaching of the gorillas, political instabilities and human encroachment on the forest increased again which endangered the lives of the mountain gorillas and this saw the gorilla population decrease more and more. It was until the respective governments improved gorilla conservation since 2000 that has seen the population of the gorillas on stead increase as tourism improved through sell of gorilla tracking permits by the respective countries.

Mountain gorillas live in groups headed by the dominant male silverback. The male silverback directs the group members daily on the activities like making nests, searching for food and the general roles a head of the family does.  Many questions are always asked in trying to understand the gorillas as some of them are as below;

– Are gorillas dangerous?

The gorillas are largely herbivorous feeding on fruits, leaves, stems, roots though they can some times eat insects.Mountain gorillas are peaceful animals and pose no threat to human beings. However, if they are not habituated for tracking, they tend to run away from human beings and can pose danger if they are under threat. The silverback will defend his family territory if there is any threat especially on the young ones.

– What do gorillas eat?

The gorillas live in the mountainous areas covered with bamboo as this is the best food they enjoy. They eat the leaves of the bamboo as well as the stems of young bamboo. The gorillas make nests everyday for sleeping in and will migrate from place to place everyday. While on gorilla trek, it is the nests that help give guidance on where the gorillas could be situated as this reflects where they stayed that night.

It is because the gorillas are located in only one region in the world and are under threat from human activity that they are regarded as endangered since they can be completely extinct in case there is any advanced human activity and there is no aversion.

For more information on mountain gorillas use the following resources;