World Conservation and Wildlife Trust

Fighting to protect the World's Marine Life, Wildlife, Biodiversity and Population.

Mountain Gorillas

General information on the Mountain Gorilla

The Mountain Gorilla is one of two subspecies of the Eastern gorilla. They live in the cold, misty climate of Central Africa, spread out across the borders of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. They can weigh up to 400 pounds inducing territorial behaviour. Despite their size studies show them to be very gentle and calm. 

The mountain gorilla has long dark hair enabling it to travel through cold climates reaching an overall temperature of up to 0 degrees Celcius. Males can often weigh twice that of a female reaching up to 266 kg. The Silverback gained the name after scientists discovered a cluster of grey hairs form on their back as they grow older, hence naming them Silverbacks. Standing tall, the mountain gorilla can reach a height of up to 1.9 m with an arm span of 2.3 m. The mountain gorilla is very territorial and quadrupedal. At times it may climb up into trees to gather fruit. Their arms are no longer than their legs, therefore causing them to walk on all fours, however the differential factor that separates them from other great apes is that they walk on their fists instead of their palms. Like humans they are diurnal, meaning that they are most active during the day. Many of these daytime hours are spent eating and foraging to maintain their bulk and at night only the infants sleep in the mothers nest.

The mountain gorilla is mainly a herbivore, its diet mainly consisting of shoots and stems, roots, fruit and bark. Males can eat up to 34 kg of vegetation a day, in comparison to a female's 18kg. The gorilla spends most its time foraging for food in the Hagenia forests situated at about 2,800-3,400 metres altitude. Newborn babies weigh around 1.8 kg when born and spend the first few months of their lives in very close contact with mother. They gain the ability to walk at about 5-6 months old and after 8 months it can ingest solid food. Amazingly males only properly start to breed at the age of 15, leaving females with 2-6 infants over a 40 year period.

Reasons for endangerment

The mountain gorilla is affected devastatingly by poaching and habitat destruction and are classified as critically endangered by the I.U.C.N. Red List of Endangered Species. On the contrary, conservation efforts have thrived as new regulations have come in and anti-poaching rangers provide safe haven for these magnificent creatures. 

Article by RHN.