Silverback Gorilla

What is a Silverback Gorilla?

Silverback Gorilla Facts

Silverback gorilla is generally a term given to a mature male gorilla. These are part of great gorilla species, i.e., Grauer’s gorillas and mountain gorillas. They are grouped under endangered wildlife animals. They are mammals under the order of primates.

Physical appearance.

Silverback gorilla’s main distinctive feature from other species of gorillas such as blackbacks and female gorillas is the grey/white streak on its flanks. Sometimes silver in color, this streak runs along the silverback gorilla’s back. Identifying it is therefore easier.

The lifespan of a silverback gorilla.

A silverback gorilla can live up to about 40 to 50 years. This is a consequence of their feeding habits in which foods provide the required nutrients to keep their bodies healthy.

It is understood that they would potentially exceed that lifespan if not for their risky activities such as fighting to protect their families and other challenges such as human wars, habitat loss, poaching, diseases and climate change effects.

Family roles.

The major role of a silverback is leadership in the gorilla family. As a similar trait to that of humans, gorillas also cluster into family units. This therefore raises a question for a family head. Naturally, this is an obvious point of who leads.

The silverback controls a family unit by determining where the family nests, retains mating rights and defends the family from any potential enemies. The mode of leadership determines whether gorilla family keeps intact, or disintegrates.

Diet of a silverback gorilla.

The silverback gorilla is primarily a herbivore. This fact debunks the extensive belief by many that they are highly carnivorous simply because of their protruding canines. The silverback gorilla feeds on bamboo shoots in great amounts, tissue from the tree stems (which is a factor for their brute mass and strength), and some succulent leaves and roots.

Silverbacks can ordinarily feast on over 19 kilograms of vegetation within a single day. They also occasionally feast on flowers, especially in the flowering seasons of the year. Small worms and ants are also preferred meals for silverback gorillas.

Height and weight of a silverback gorilla.

As far as height goes, silverback gorillas can measure up to 1½ to 2 meters. The arm length of a silverback gorilla is average between 2.3 meters to about 2.7 meters. The weight of a silverback gorilla ranges from 210 kilograms to 230 kilograms. This great mass is accounted to their selective diets.

Strength of the silverback gorilla.

A silverback gorilla is immensely strong. The brute strength of a silverback gorilla is estimated at an equivalent of 9 to 10 full-grown strong men. A silverback grows to great mass and height which gives its hind legs stability when it faces off an enemy. Humans are warned of challenging a silverback to a duo.


The main predator (and enemy in that case) of silverback gorillas is the humans. Human beings have established themselves as destructive to these primates by poaching them, fighting from within their habitats, and also encroaching on their land. The second known predator of silverbacks is the leopard. Leopards have the ability to swiftly climb trees. Coupled with their hunting skills and great speed, they pose as a major predator for silverback gorillas.


Gorillas generally live in montane forested lowlands and tropical vegetated highlands. In these forests, silverback gorillas lead their families into building nests and also seek food therein.

Globally, they are only habituated and trekked in the lush Virunga region i.e., Uganda, D.R Congo, and Rwanda. They have inhabited this region for decades notwithstanding rapid human activities of encroaching on their forest homes, poaching and wars that led to both loss of most of its habitats and senseless killings of these primates.

Conservation status.

Silverback gorillas are part of the eastern gorilla species that are endangered. For many years, these gorillas have succumbed to different dangers that have occasioned a reduction in their population.

However, respective governments in countries in which gorillas are situated have for years worked with regional and international conservation bodies to preserve these species. Such conservation agencies include the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Africa Wildlife Foundation, and World Wildlife Fund. Conservation activities include research to innovate better ways of conserving them, and also protection of their habitats.