Uganda Mountain Gorillas


Uganda Mountain Gorillas total population is about 1,000 gorillas in the world, situated in the Bwindi Impenetrable Conservation Area, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and the smaller number in the Central part of Africa. Classified as the Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla Gorilla) and Eastern Gorillas (Gorilla Beringei) and each has 2 sub species. Gorillas have been listed and considered Endangered by the IUCN.

Mountain Gorillas also known as Gorilla Beringei being our main focus are the kind found in Uganda and take up more than half the world population. Their name hints at their habitat as they live in the mountains at an elevation of 8,000-13,000ft with thick fur which comes in handy as it helps them survive by keeping them warm as the temperatures are often below freezing. Males will be bigger than the females with silver hair on their backs and large bumps on their heads called Sagittal Crests. This information however helps little in regards to the young males and females. Mountain gorillas live in families and share 98% of the human DNA with a weakness of slow speed and poor sight which means they can only run for short distances.

Gorillas are very strong and can carry things ten times bigger than them and are four times stronger than a man due to the immense muscle strength, however they are scared of chameleons, caterpillars and water. When it comes to water, even if they must cross they try their hardest to expose very little of their bodies to water.

The average lifespan of mountain gorillas is 35-40 years however it goes up to 50 years for those who are situated in zoos and we have Fatou as the oldest gorilla found in a zoo in Berlin, Germany. With arthritis which damages their bones and loss of teeth which can interfere with feeding, in general the gorillas have a full life as per their lifespan. Gorillas are considered mature at the age of 8 however the females are ready for conceiving at the age of 10.

The gestation period of a female gorilla is 8 and a half months, however once she is pregnant it is hard to know that she is, as they naturally have big stomachs for digestions but some females have swollen knuckles when pregnant. At 10 years is when a female gorilla can conceive and once they give birth, they will take between 4-6years before they can conceive again unfortunately 26% of the babies don’t make it past the first year with first time mothers having a higher infant mortality rate.

Male gorillas who are adults normally assume the leadership role as the dominant silverback, keep the group cohesive and also have the best access to the females for mating; and with the help of other male gorillas they also provide protection for the family and mediate conflict. Females ensure the social structure and reproduction of the group, take care of the new additions of the group. Males normally separate from their original families at the age of 11, they will either go alone or go with other males and form another group until they are old enough to attract females of their own to increase the new formed group/family.

Gorillas in general love resting and eating as this is what they do for most of their day, and when not eating or resting they are looking for food. They eat bamboos, leaves, roots, fruits and when in position compliment their diet with ants. Please not that they build nests both on the ground and in the trees for sleeping in.

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