Mountain Gorillas In Africa are found in Congo,(Congo Gorilla Trekking) Rwanda, (Rwanda Gorilla Trekking),Uganda( Gorilla Trekking Uganda). Mountain Gorillas are one of the unique primates on earth and they have 98% traits of human beings and are large, quiet, gentle apes that live in Africa in general and East Africa in particular. Although gorillas are frequently portrayed as aggressive, dangerous killers, they are shy, peaceful vegetarians and after undergoing habituation (a process of inducting them to accept the presence of human beings), they become totally friendly to human beings. However, because of massive loss of habitat, these majestic primates are in great danger of going extinct. There are various attributes that one ought to thoroughly know about these unique primates that do definitiate them from the other primates and these include;
The evolution of gorillas
The earliest-known primates date from about 70 million years ago. The greater apes belong to the pongidae family which incorporates the gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans. The gorilla’s closest relative genetically is the chimpanzee which is also human’s closest relative in the animal kingdom. However, their populations has steadily decreased majorly due to human activities like poaching for bush meat.
Gorillas have very long arms (the arms are longer than the legs), and a short, bulky body with a wide chest.
Hair and Skin:
Gorillas are covered with brownish hair on most of their body (except their fingers, palms, face, armpits, and bottoms of their feet).
Gorillas have a very large head with a bulging forehead, a crest on top, tiny ears, and small, dark-brown eyes. Gorillas have no tail. Adult gorillas have 32 teeth, with large molars (flat teeth used for chewing food) and large canines (pointy teeth used for biting), which are especially large in the male gorillas. Each gorillas has a unique nose print.
Gorillas have senses very similar to ours, including hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch.
Hands and Feet:
Gorillas’ hands are very much like ours; they have five fingers, including an opposable thumb. Their feet have five toes, including an opposable big toe. Gorillas can grasp things with both their hands and their feet.
Male gorillas are much larger than the females, and are almost twice as heavy. Adult male gorillas are called silverbacks because they have a saddle-shaped patch of silver hair on their backs after they are about 12 years of age. A male gorilla can weigh up to over 200kg as opposed to the 90kg of a fully grown up female gorilla.
Gorillas are predominantly herbivores, eating mostly plant material. They forage for food in the forests during the day. They eat leaves, fruit, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They have been known to eat various parts of over 200 different plant species. Occasionally, gorillas supplement their diet with termites and ants. They rarely drink water; the water contained in their diet is apparently enough to sustain them. An average adult male eats approximately 50 pounds of food a day.
Gorillas are very intelligent and can learn extremely complex tasks.
Some gorillas have been taught sign language by people; these gorillas learned how to form simple sentences and communicate with people.
Gorillas have never been observed using tools in the wild, although they have been taught to use them in captivity.
Behavior and social habits
Bands of Gorillas:
Gorillas are shy, social animals that are active during the day (they are diurnal). They live in small groups (or bands) of 6-7 individuals, including one silverback (adult male), a few females, and their young. When the young mature, they go off and join or form another band.
Grooming one another (cleaning the hair of another gorilla) is a major occupation among gorillas in a band. Female gorillas groom their offspring, one another, and the silverback BUT the silverback does not groom others.
Each evening, gorillas construct a “nest” for the night in which they will curl up and sleep. These bowl-shaped nests are made out of leaves and other plant material. Nests are only shared by a mother and her nursing offspring.
Gorillas are not aggressive animals. When an intruder disturbs them, they may make a lot of noise, but they rarely confront another animal.
Communication and vocalization
Gorillas are generally quiet animals. They communicate with each other using many complicated sounds and gestures. Gorillas use at least 25 recognized vocalizations, including grunts, roars, growls, whines, chuckles, hooting, etc. Some gorilla gestures include chest-beating, high-pitched barks, lunging, throwing objects, staring, sticking out the tongue, sideways running, slapping, rising to a two-legged stance, etc.
Communication is used to teach the young the many skills that they need to survive, and for other gorillas to communicate about food, social relationships, distress, mating, etc.
Gorillas knuckle-walk using both their legs and their long arms (putting pressure on their knuckles, with the fingers rolled into the hand). Gorillas rarely walk using only their legs. They can climb trees, but do not do so very often. Gorillas cannot swim.
Gorillas live about 50 years in captivity; their life span in the wild is only about 35 years (like most animals, they live much longer in captivity).
Gorillas are primarily terrestrial (although they lived in trees back in their evolutionary past). Gorillas live in tropical rain forests, wet lowland forests, swamps, and abandoned fields.
Reproduction and baby gorillas
Gorillas are fully grown and able to reproduce at 10-12 years old. Female gorillas are pregnant for about 8 to 9.5 months and have about 3 babies in their lifetime. Newborn gorillas weigh only about 1.4 to 1.8 kg at birth. Female gorillas carefully nurture their young. Baby gorillas learn to crawl at about 2 months and can walk before they are 9 months old. They can grasp their mother’s fur to ride on the mother’s back at 4 months. Baby gorillas are fed on mother’s milk for the first 2 1/2 years of life. When they are weaned, gorillas begin to build their own sleeping nests out of vegetation and not use their mother’s nest anymore. Young gorillas stay with their mother for 3-4 years. Adult male gorillas (silverbacks) will care for weaned orphaned young gorillas.
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About Conservation of Mountain Gorillas
Gorilla Doctors is dedicated to saving the mountain gorilla species one gorilla patient at a time. Our international veterinarian team provides hands-on medical care to sick and injured mountain gorillas living in the national parks of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). With only 780 mountain gorillas left in the world today, the health and well being of every individual gorilla is vital to the species’ survival.
In addition to providing mountain gorillas with healthcare, our veterinary team monitors the health of DRC’s Grauer’s, or eastern lowland, gorillas and intervenes to help sick individuals when possible. The Gorilla Doctors also help rescue and treat mountain and Grauer’s gorillas orphaned by poachers.
The Gorilla Doctors healthcare program includes:
- Monitoring the health of mountain gorilla groups to ensure the early detection of disease and injury.
- Staging medical interventions to dart sick animals with antibiotics or anesthetize and treat gorillas suffering from human-induced or life-threatening trauma.
- Rescuing and providing veterinary care to gorillas orphaned by poachers.
- Documenting and studying health trends to better predict disease outbreaks.
- Conducting post mortem examinations on dead gorillas to learn all that we can about the health problems that contributed to their deaths.
- Preserving tissue and fluid samples to be used by researchers investigating primate health issues.
- Providing preventive healthcare to the dedicated park personnel who protect the gorillas, and to the people and their animals that live near gorilla habitat, in order to reduce the risk of inter-species disease transmission.
The work of Gorilla Doctors would not be possible without the collaboration of the wildlife authorities of the countries where mountain gorillas live: the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), L’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN), and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). We also work with a number of other gorilla conservation groups, especially the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). Visit www.gorilladoctors.org and for conservation Gorilla Safaris visit www.gorillaexpeditions.com