10 Fascinating Facts About Gorillas

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Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas

By the DNA fact, the gorillas are one of the four species of great apes that are the closest living relatives of human beings. The other three are the chimpanzees, bonobos and the orangutans.

Locations of the Gorillas

The Eastern gorilla is a critically endangered specie. Also known as the gorilla beringei, it consists of two subspecies; the Eastern Lowland gorillas of Eastern DR Congo and the mountain gorillas.

The eastern lowland gorillas are found in part of the eastern Democratic of Congo (DRC), while the mountain gorillas are only found within the Virunga mountain region straddling the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda borders, as well as the Bwindi Impenetrable National park in Uganda.

The Western gorilla is spread in 7 countries. It consists of the western lowland gorillas also inhabit Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Republic of Congo, eastern DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola.

The cross River Gorillas are confined to a small region in Nigeria and Cameroon.

Gorillas Evolved from Monkeys

The great apes are also different from the monkeys for a variety of reasons: they are larger, walk upright for a longer period of time, and they don’t have tails and have much larger, more developed brains. There are four subspecies of gorillas: the Eastern Lowland or they can be called the Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri); the western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla); the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei); and the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehl).

There are No Mountain Gorillas in Zoos

Of all gorillas, the mountain gorillas can only be seen in the wild. This is because unlike the other 3 species, there is no gorilla in captivity. To meet the mountain gorillas, you have to travel to Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo. These three countries have greatly attracted many tourists who go for gorilla trekking safaris in  Uganda, Rwanda and Congo.

Longer Arms than Legs

Again like all great apes, the gorillas have got arms that are longer than their legs and also tend to walk on all four limbs at certain times, a movement that is called Knuckle walking. The adult males are known as “silverback” due to the distinctive silver colored hair on their backs.

Appearances Vary Among Species

The gorilla’s appearances can also vary based on sub species, but for the most part, the western subspecies tend to be brownish gray in color, while those of the eastern and the mountain gorillas also tend to have a more blackish coat. The mountain gorillas also have longer and thicker fur that is adapted to their colder mountainous habitat. The three lowland subspecies of gorillas sport short, the fine hair. The Eastern lowland gorillas are also the largest of the four subspecies. The many visitors who have gone for gorilla safaris activity have had the best safari experience ever.

Gorillas are Herbivores

The gorillas are also herbivores, they feed on leaves, shoots, roots, vines and fruits. The eastern low land gorilla numbers have rapidly declined to below 5,000 today .Critically endangered, there are fewer than 300 cross River Gorillas. The mountain gorillas, another endangered subspecies, the number at around 700. The recent survey has shown that there are around 150,000-200,000 western lowland gorillas.

Gorillas Are Ground Dwelling Animals

The Gorillas are ground dwelling and also live in groups of 6-12 with the oldest and the largest silverback leading a family of females, their young and the younger males called black backs. The silverback makes the decisions on when his group wakes up, eats, moves and rests for the night. Because he must protect his family at all times, the silvers tends to be the most aggressive. Also in the situations, he will beat his chest and charge at the perceived threat.

Gorillas Are Shy

Gorillas are shy animals that are the most active during the day. At dusk, each gorilla constructs a nest of leaves and the plant materials in which it will sleep. The mothers usually share their nests with nursing infants. The young males also may leave their family groups as they become older and either live as solitary silverbacks or create their own family groups. The silverback has the exclusive rights to mate with the females in his group.

The gorilla infants are also helpless at birth and also weigh about 3 to 4ibs. These learn to crawl at about 2 months and are walking by the time they are around 8 to 9 months. The mother gorillas nurse their babies’ for about 3 years, following which the young become more independent.

Gorillas Are Threatened Species

The gorillas are also threatened by the habitat loss due to increasing human populations, poaching for the bush meat trade and the diseases like Ebola.

The species which live in higher elevations like mountain gorillas, are also affected by climate change, which has the potential to impact the gorillas directly by alering their habitats, and also indirectly by affecting agriculture yields in nearby communities, which in turn puts more pressure on the remaining habitat, and indirectly by affecting agriculture yields in the nearby communities.

The mountain gorillas have greatly attracted by many people coming for gorilla safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. These rare mountain gorillas are considered endangered by IUCN.

Not only being threatened by loss of habitat due to human encroachment, they have also become victims of human violence. Also as the civil war rages in Africa, the efforts to conserve mountain gorilla populations have been curtailed. The mountain gorillas have also been killed or also captured by the poachers. Their body parts are also sold to collectors, and baby gorillas are sold illegally as pets, research subjects and the private zoo animals.

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