Mountain gorillas are descendants of ancestral monkeys and apes found in Africa and Arabia during the start of Oligocene (24-34 million years ago). The total population of these gigantic sized primates in slightly above 1000. Their diet is mainly plants. They are one of the rare mammal species found in the world. It was 9 million years ago that this group of primates were evolved into gorillas, from common ancestors with humans and chimps. This is when the genus gorillas came up. Mountain gorillas have great importance to the environment and eco-system.
Mountain gorillas are sub species of the Eastern gorillas – the largest gorilla species among the living primates. They have massive chests, muscular arms and broad hands and feet. Another amazing aspect about mountain gorillas is that they have thick black hair that protects them from cold weather.
The eastern mountain gorilla has long hair and shorter arms than its low land cousin. Mountain gorillas have 98% of human DNA and they can live for up to 54 years, the males are called Silverbacks because they grow silver – like hair on their back when they get old; however, mountain gorillas don’t have tails.
Mountain gorillas are social
The most interesting and unique fact about this primate is that its behavior is more of humans. They are considerably social and live in groups of 2-40 led by a silver back (male gorilla).
This dominant male is the chief leader, decision maker and protector of the entire family. He guards other members from attacks by humans, other gorillas or any other threats. A greater number of males live their biological group around 11 years old. The Silverback then leads the group to the most ideal spot for feeding and resting throughout the year.
Female gorillas give birth when they turn 10 and off springs every 4 years. When the infants turn 3, they tend to be independent.
Gorillas are herbivorous
A mountain gorilla’s diet is made up of different plant species but mainly thistles, wood and roots. They rarely drink water, since they get most of the water from fresh plants they consume. In fact, this ape eats a lot of food and they are herbivores in nature.
Mountain gorillas are endemic to the Virunga ranges and Bwindi
Are you In search of mountain gorillas?, they can be found in two separate locations, Bwindi impenetrable national park and in the Virunga range of extinct volcanic mountains along the boundary of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Rwanda.
In Uganda, mountain gorillas can be trekked in Bwindi impenetrable NP and Mgahinga national park which has made Uganda a premium gorilla destination. Besides Uganda, mountain gorillas can be trekked in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park in D.R. Congo.
Population of Mountain Gorillas
Due to the conservation efforts by a number of non – governmental and governmental bodies, the population size of mountain gorillas has kept on increasing in the respective national parks.
In Bwindi and Mgahinga NPs (Uganda) there are about 500 individuals living in the wild where as in Virunga national park (Rwanda & DRC) they are approximately 600 individuals, making the total to about 1100 mountain gorillas in the world, up from 400 individuals ten years back. This portrays a perfect success story in mountain gorilla conservation.
Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Gorilla trekking can be done all year round depending on your convenience. However, as experts may advise, there are those times when gorillas can be easily found during a trek. The best months of doing this activity are from mid-June to early October, mid-December to March when its dry season and jungles are easily navigable.
Gorilla tacking permit prices may differ depending on different destinations. In Virunga national park in Congo, the permit costs $400 per person per trek while in Uganda it costs $600 per person per trek. In Rwanda a permit costs $1500 per person per trek making it an expensive destination for gorilla trekking.
Depending on the above facts, Mountain Gorillas are one of the most interesting mammals to watch and interact with. In fact, when you give yourself a chance of interacting with them, learn about them, re-explore and discover more.