volcanoes gorilla family

Silverback gorilla with his family

COMMON NAME: Mountain Gorilla

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Gorilla beringei beringei

TYPE: Mammals

DIET: Omnivores

GROUP NAME: Troop, band

AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: 35 years

SIZE: Standing height, 4 to 6 ft

WEIGHT: 300 to 485 lbs

SIZE RELATIVE TO A 6-FT MAN:

Mountain Gorilla Size relative to Man

Mountain Gorilla in Uganda, Bwindi Forest

ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN GORILLA

There are only several hundred mountain gorillas remaining on Earth, and about half live in the forests of the Virunga mountains in central Africa.

Conservation

These gorillas live on the green, volcanic slopes of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo— in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda, Virunga National Park in Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda.

Many conservation initiatives are meant to aid mountain gorillas, and it is believed that their numbers may be steady or slowly increasing. Still they continue to face major threats from habitat loss and poaching.

Alpha Males (Silverbacks) and Social Behavior

Mountain gorillas have longer hair and shorter arms than their lowland cousins. They also tend to be a bit larger than other gorillas.

Gorillas can climb trees, but are usually found on the ground in communities of up to 30 individuals. These troops are organized according to fascinating social structures. Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur. Troops also include several other young males, some females, and their offspring.
The leader organizes troop activities like eating, nesting in leaves, and moving about the group’s 0.75-to-16-square-mile home range.

Those who challenge this alpha male are apt to be cowed by impressive shows of physical power. He may stand upright, throw things, make aggressive charges, and pound his huge chest while barking out powerful hoots or unleashing a frightening roar. Despite these displays and the animals’ obvious physical power, gorillas are generally calm and nonaggressive unless they are disturbed.

In the thick forests of central and west Africa, troops find plentiful food for their vegetarian diet. They eat roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, and tree bark and pulp.

Reproduction

Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny—weighing four pounds—and able only to cling to their mothers’ fur. These infants ride on their mothers’ backs from the age of four months through the first two or three years of their lives.

Young gorillas, from three to six years old, remind human observers of children. Much of their day is spent in play, climbing trees, chasing one another, and swinging from branches.

In captivity, gorillas have displayed significant intelligence and have even learned simple human sign language.

1 Comment

  1. […] into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and stand eye to eye with a 500-pound critically endangered mountain gorilla. You can scale mountain peaks in the Rwenzoris (also known as the Mountains of the Moon) and see […]

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