Mountain gorillas are a special species of eastern gorillas located in three African countries and these include Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Uganda they are located in two national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, both located in the southwestern part of the country in the districts of Kisoro, Kanungu, and Rubanda. Here are the Top 10 facts about mountain gorillas.
In Rwanda, mountain gorillas can be found in the Volcanoes National Park which is located far northwest of Rwanda, encompassing five of the Virunga Volcanoes, including Sabyinyo, Bisoke, Muhabura, Gahinga and Karisimbi. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, mountain gorillas inhabit the massive Virunga National Park located in the Eastern Part of DRC, north of Lake Kivu.
Top 10 facts about mountain gorillas.
1. They live in two isolated groups.
One group lives in the Virunga volcanoes (a region extending to three countries which include Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo) and the other group lives in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is located in the south-western region of Uganda. They occupy high altitude places which are extremely cold, in thick African tropical forests though surrounded by plantations, farmlands, and settlements.
2. Humans share 98% of their DNA with mountain gorillas.
Just like Bonobos, chimpanzees, mountain gorillas too are close to human beings. This therefore implies that the diseases that affect humans are very likely to also affect mountain gorillas. Such illnesses include colds for example flue, COVID-19, Ebola, cough, T.B and many others which makes us similar to each other
3. Only 1,063 Mountain gorillas exist in the wild (according to the 2018 census).
Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest inhabits more than 50% of their total population, followed by Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in D.R. Congo, and Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda which has only one family of gorillas.
Mountain gorilla species are generally endangered as categorized by IUCN but their numbers have gone on increasing for the past years due to strict conservation policies.
4. They are one of the biggest and most powerful living apes.
Mountain gorillas have so much energy that they are capable of tearing down a tree branch or uprooting short trees. They live up to 40 years of age and they weigh up to 275kg though an average male gorillas can weigh up to 180kg and 5.5ft tall.
5. They can eat all day long.
They spend most of their day eating, up to 14 hours feeding and 10 hours resting. They feed on roots, snails, ants, leaves, shoots, and barks, which form a perfect source of sodium in their bodies. They eat up to 180kg in a day and spend the rest of the hours resting.
6. They cozy up at night.
During the night, mountain gorillas sleep in groups/families/troops together in one nest, mostly on the ground for comfort and warmth, not like their counterparts that nest up in the tree branches. Their nests are made out of foliage. This keeps them together and creates a strong bond among the entire family of gorillas.
7. Mountain gorillas have 16 different types of call.
When one gorilla is in danger it hits the short bark to alarm others or call for help in case of any danger or trouble it might be involved in. The male gorillas strut with stiff legs, beat their chest and use vocalization like roars or hoots to intimidate their rivals and show them that they are more powerful.
8. Gorillas live in groups called families or troops.
Every troop has a silverback as a leader and the rest of black backs are mainly his sons then the juveniles, several female gorillas and young ones. The troop is made of 2-12 individuals but can be even more. They live and move together in a family while looking for food. The lead silverback gives directions and instructions.
9. Mountain gorillas in the wild can live up to 40 years.
Gorillas between the age of 1 to 3 and half years are considered infants. Then at 8 years are adults. Between the ages of 8-12, male gorillas are known as black backs, then at 12 years and above they begin to develop a silver fur on their backs and flanks, hence the name – silverbacks. A gorilla in wilderness can live for up to 40 years, while in captivity it lives for up to 50 – 60 years. However, mountain gorillas cannot be tamed into captivity, but only their counterparts the eastern lowland gorillas have survived in captivity.
10. They are threatened primate species.
They are under a threat of habitat degradation mainly by people who encroach on their natural habitats, due to agriculture practices, extension of settlements and illegal hunting and extraction of forest products. This pressure leads to reduction in resources through deforestation putting the mountain gorillas’ lives and population at a risk of reduction and consequently extinction.