5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are currently increasing in numbers after near extinction due to habitat loss, poaching, human diseases and civil conflicts. Thanks to conservation efforts, there are more than 880 individuals in the wild. Being one of the extremely rare animals on earth, the chance to see them in their natural habitat attracts many travelers who book their gorilla trekking safaris to Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mountain gorillas are closely related to human beings

Mountain gorillas share 95% of their DNA with humans. Research has therefore proved that gorillas share a number of similarities with humans. They exhibit emotions such as unhappiness, laughter and grooming each other. They also communicate to each other through vocalizations and body language such as hand gestures. The silverback gorillas will often beat their chest and make noise to signal to other members that there’s a threat or an intruder into their home.

Mountain gorillas play sex for both pleasure and reproduction.

Gorillas have been observed having face to face sexual intercourse. Females use sex as a trick to win favor from silverback gorillas as well as prevent the rival females from mating with their male. This sort of competitive behavior explains why dominant females close their mouth and court their silverback males by staying around them to prevent other females from mating.

Female mountain gorillas have a gestation period of nine months just like humans. Females start reproduction when they are ten years old and have the ability to give birth to twins or single baby at a time. In their life span which between 35 to 50 years; they can more than six babies. After birth, females hold their babies tight in the chest until they’re four months old to be carried on the backs.

Mature male gorillas are called Silverbacks.

Whereas females don’t experience any changes in their hair, the male gorillas normally develop silver-like hair on their back and hips hence the origin of the name Silverback. As people tend to relate the silver hair to grey hair that men develop in the process of aging, it is a sign that male gorillas have reached sexual maturity at the age of 12 years. As a result, other gorillas start to respect the silverback as the head of the gorilla family which can be as large as 30 members.

However much a single gorilla family may have two or more silverbacks, there’s always one that leads and protects the group. In addition to protecting family members, silverbacks also command activities such as feeding range, movement, resting and nesting. Silverbacks also pact as parent the young gorillas. And babies will always move and stay around the silverback most of the time because it’s their father, protection and strength.

Mountain gorillas do not survive in captivity and live only in Africa.

Apparently, there’s no single mountain gorilla living in captivity. Mountain gorillas live in a unique tropical mountainous environment and the conditions cannot be replicated elsewhere.    There are only two separate habitats where mountain gorilla population lives. The Virunga massif is one and appears to be the largest habitat as the volcanoes straddle the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Eastern DR Congo. The second is Bwindi impenetrable forest national park which is home to half of the mountain gorilla population. Bwindi forest is isolated about 20 miles from the Virunga volcanoes and this has led to speculations and rumors that Bwindi gorillas might be a different subspecies. There’s no scientific evidence however to ascertain this claim.

Would you like to meet the mountain gorillas in the wild? Why not book a gorilla safari today and get close to these great apes. Well trained guides will lead you on a trek to meet these forest dwellers in their natural home. By the end of the tour, you will be well equipped with a lot of information about these apes!