Gorillas are cousins to human and are regarded as the second relative to man after the bonobo and chimpanzee which shares almost 98% of human genes. gorillas are also known as the largest primate on earth with a male weighing to up to 500 pounds and stand nearly 6 feet tall. Often he will have silver hair on his back, marking his senior age and dominance within the group.
Gorilla used to dwell a swathe of the land that cut across central Africa but in the frost are diminished the forest and this divided the gorillas into four groups. One of these gorilla specie is known as the western low land gorillas, these giant apes are commonly seen in zoos, they have short brownish-black coats and ginger crowns. Over 200,000 individuals are said to be left in the world, these species of gorillas are found in Equatorial Guinea, D.R Congo, Central African Republic, Cameroon and Angola.
The Eastern low land gorillas these are known as the largest sub-species among the four gorilla species that live in the world, they are distinguished from other species according to their longer faces; they’re less shaggy and more muscular than the other eastern species (mountain gorilla). Over 5,000 individuals are said to be left in the wild, however, the population decrease is attributed on Democratic Republic Congo’s civil war due to bush meat hunting and medicines. These gorilla species are found in the Eastern democratic republic of Congo.
The mountain gorillas, this is the most famous of all gorillas and they are the one most likely to watch since they are habituated to human principles, and mountain gorilla tracking is the most interesting adventurous activities done on earth. Mountain gorillas are known as endangered species only 900 individuals are shared by Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda is known to house the highest population of these apes over 480 live in Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park.
Rwanda (Volcanoes national park) is known as the leading mountain gorilla safari destination in the world. Rwanda and Uganda are the most favorites for gorilla tracking than any other countries in the world where these species live. Mountain gorillas are notable from their low land gorillas by longer hair, a broader chest, and a wider jaw. The most obvious thing that sets a part the gorillas in bwindi from those of the virunga volcanoes is that they are less shaggy, most likely due to the lower altitude of bwindi compared with the volcanoes.
The Cross river gorillas; these are known as the most endangered species only 300 individuals are said to live worldwide although there is hope for the number to insure in future. They look similar to their western lowland cousins, however with smaller and shorter skulls. They live in Nigeria and south west Cameroon
Daily life: like any other wildlife species, gorillas spend most of their life feeding this takes about 30% of their daily life, 30% moving and searching for food and the rest of the time is spent when resting, on average gorillas usually travel about 1km a day in the process of searching for food. They spend most of their time on ground while using their four legs; however they stand up to reach for food. Gorillas are purely vegetarians, manly leaves, buds, shoots, tubers, roots, stalks, bark, fruits, ferns among others all of which contain too much water, they normally take long to drink water due to the type of food they consume. The leader of the group takes all the decisions in a group (silverback because of the grey hair that develop on its back) including where to feed, and sleep, each gorilla make its nest every night except young ones who sleeps with their mother, gorillas normally sleep in a nest only ounce, however this is determined by the dung left there.
Habitat: Gorillas live in close-knit family groups that may have up to 15-20 members normally 1-2 males, females and infants. However, sometimes the group may exceed that like in Rwanda there is a group with over 30 members. Hierarchy in gorillas is normally determined by age, the silverback which normally from 15 years and above is the leader of the group, followed by a females with children, blackbucks and other females, then the infants are at the bottom of the ladder. Most gorillas leave the group when they reach adulthood, which helps prevent interbreeding among such a small population.
Biology: mountain gorillas are regarded as the largest among the rest gorilla species, with an adult weighing to over 200kg, females are a half of this size. However the largest gorilla ever recorded was an eastern lowland male gorilla. Adulthood in males is normally reached between the age of 8-15 and females ate the age of eight. The gestation period lasts between 35 – 45 weeks. Gorillas first give birth at10 years and will have more offspring every three or four years. Most of the time when a female conceives she spends most of her life pregnant or nursing, and at times when a female conceives it leaves the group and live a lonely life or stay with an lonely silverback to avoid being disturbed. When a baby is bone its highly dependent and it rarely leave its mother’s arm like in human until the age of six months and they are able to walk when 8 months old. They are able to interact with other members when they are two years old and they start to feed on its self. Gorillas have four fingers and a thumb just like humans, they have senses very similar to ours, including sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.
Life span: gorillas normally live for over 50 years in the wild whereas in captivity/zoos they may live less than 35years
Conflicts: Conflicts in gorillas are rarely noted, they are known as peaceful primates and serious fights are a rare case among gorillas. However as living creatures conflicts happen mostly to show strength and verbal disagreement and conflicts between groups is very common since gorillas are not territorial. Ounce two group meets, fights occurs between silverbacks and often the whole group joins in and it is at this point that young adult females may choose to switch family. If a leading male is fought out of the group by a silverback, the new leader likely will kill all the young infants to create his mating rights.
Threats: The main threat to gorillas is humans, due to their human activities like deforestation for firewood, farmland leaving gorillas homeless, illegal bush meat, hunting and poaching. Gorillas are also killed due to injuries making young ones become orphaned; they are also killed by various types of illnesses from surrounding human populations like flue, cough, cold that can rapidly spread through the troop.
Gorilla Viewing in Africa
Gorilla viewing is most popular in Eastern African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, and the number of visitors is limited per day where by, each habituated gorilla family is visited by a maximum of 8 persons per day. One must posses a gorilla permit that acts as permission permission for one to join the trek in search for these endangered gentle giants. Rwanda gorilla permits cost US$750 each while Uganda permit costs US$600 each. Their demand is very high throughout the year. Therefore, one must book and reserve your permit in advance. Gorilla permits can be booked through Travel Agents, Tour Operators or book direct through Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda and Rwanda Development Board for Rwanda.