The mountain Gorilla is usually the species of gorilla that is found in the countries of Rwanda and Uganda. These countries are located in the central and eastern parts of the large peninsular African continent. Rwanda and Uganda are both countries with mountainous forests that have a humid and tropical climate for most of the year. These forests are filled with a number of species of birds, animals and insects. Mountain safaris in these regions are those that are often sought by most of their visitors. The Republic of Uganda has around four hundred and fifty nine mountain gorillas and Rwanda has a total of 1000 gorillas in its mountainous regions. This article is more of an in depth knowledge about the species, if you are looking to plan a gorilla trekking trip, you may refer our gorilla trek faq here.
The mountain gorillas are somewhat different from the eastern and lowland gorillas. Their physical features are different as a form of adaptation to where they reside and spend most of their lives. The mountain gorillas have a thicker skin covering and a longer fur to protect them from the cool temperatures of the high mountains. The mountain gorillas have shorter hair on their backs and almost no hair on their hands, feet and their ears. The mountain gorillas are usually found with large bodies, long arms, round stomach, narrow chest and an elongated skull. The mountain gorillas are often said to have a larger brain in comparison to the other species that are present. In addition to this mountain gorillas have extremely strong jaws that help them to eat the hard plants, fruits and vegetables found in the mountain region. The gorillas also have an extremely efficient and well structured intestines, which is the reason for their prominent abdomen. The adult male gorilla has an average height of 1.50 meters and total weight of about 190 kilograms . The adult female gorilla has an average height of 1 metre and weight of 100 kilograms.
The feeding habits of the mountain gorilla are mostly the same as the other gorilla species. The mountain gorilla is known to be a herbivorous animal, their staple diet includes leaves, stems, barks, flowers, buds and sometimes even smaller insects like ants, snails, slugs and larvae. In accordance with research, a mountain gorilla can eat one hundred and forty two species of leaves but only 3 different types of plants and vegetables because of the lack of variety that is found in their habitat. Because of the limitation of fruits and vegetables the mountain gorilla has a diet that comprises 85 percent of leaves, plants, insects and roots.
These species can eat about 30 kilograms of food per day and adult females can eat upto 18 kilograms of food, most of their water they get from the plants and leaves that they consume.
In contrast to popular belief, the mountain gorillas are peaceful and social animals that live in a structured group which is more like a family. The mountain gorillas have a ‘silverback’ male that is like the leader of the group and often takes up the responsibility to take charge of the group, in addition to this the mountain gorillas also have a subordinate male and other females who often live with their newly born offspring. The silverback male is also charged to take action against the intruders and predators who can cause any sort of harm or threat to their group.
The females in the group are not well interlinked with each other, their sole purpose to take good care of the infant as well as to stay in close contact with the dominant male so that he can protect them from any sort of death or danger that is seen to the group. During migration or travelling both the males and females as well as the younger mountain gorilla are required to take charge of making nests, gathering food, creating a safe space and creating a resting area for the entire crew. The gorillas although not close to each other, they make to help one another living in the same clan as them. For example if there is a sudden death of the female gorilla, her child will not be abandoned by the group, but will be taken care of by them. This shows the human side of the gorillas making sure the safety and security of their group, more like their family.
Where can one find these mountain gorillas?
These mountain gorillas are present usually in the jungle of the Albertine Rift and the Virunga mountains. This includes the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Virunga National Park and the Volcanoes National Park and the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. They usually inhabit the highly dense tropical forests and are found at high altitudes of 4,300 metres. They can also be found in the fertile lands of the Bisoke and Mileno volcanic regions.
However, it is extremely unfortunate that these species come under the critically endangered species of animals. This is the result of poaching, diseases and habitat loss. We must immediately take the necessary steps with the aim of preserving and saving this extremely rare and social Mountain Gorillas.