Mountain gorillas and Human beings (gorilla permits)

The endangered mountain gorilla (G. g. beringei) of Uganda and Rwanda are one of the amazing gorilla species worldwide thus heading the primate family in these tourism destinations due to their large, bulky size and their total number is estimated to be only 700. The western lowland gorillas (G. g. gorilla) is the commonest one among the themis and is not present in Uganda but an estimated 40000 live in the rainforests of west and central Africa. The endangered eastern lowland gorilla (G. g. graueri) is restricted to patches of forests in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Generally, gorillas may live about 35 years in the wild, and up to 54 years in zoos.
Uganda’s mountain gorillas can only be found in the wild since Uganda has taken an ecotourism path aimed at enhancing sustainable conservation and tourism development that benefits both the present and future generations.
Bwindi National park and Mgahinga National park lying on the eastern part of the country accommondate these amazing creatures and are Uganda’s major Tourism attraction. Looking into the dark brown eyes of these mammals is quite the most memorable adventure activity that Uganda other than any other destination in the world can offer.
Mountain gorillas live in tropical moist forests and in Uganda they are found in the Afro-montane forests of Mgahinga Gorilla National park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park and go as far as the virunga volcanoes of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
These creatures generally have longer hair than the other subspecies
Their arms are longer than their legs. Whenever they are walking, they quadrupely knuckle walk, while supporting their weight on the third and fourth digits of their curled hands.
Like humans and other primates, each individual gorilla has distinctive fingerprints.
Looking at their size the male mountain gorillas are bigger than their female counterparts. Adult males have silvery white fur at their backs hence the name silverback. It is this silverback which heads the family.
Standing on two legs, an adult mountain gorilla stands about five and a half feet, weighing between 300 and 400 pounds. Females on average weigh only 200 pounds.

Mountain gorillas feed on leaves, stems of herbs, shrubs and vines there fore are herbivores, feed on rotten wood and small animals and some times they raid farms. Male gorillas can eat up to 32 Kilogram’s of food per day where as their female counterparts eat two thirds of that. They feed in the morning; spend the whole day playing, glooming or sleeping while at night they fashion nests from where they live.

Mountain gorillas have a slow rate of production. This makes it more threatening.
Female Gorillas give birth at the age of 10-12 years for the first time and will have children every 4 years or even more. New born baby gorillas weigh about 4 pounds. Female gorillas look after their offspring. The babies learn to creep at 2 months and can walk before they are 9 months old. (Earlier than normal human beings). They usually grab their mother’s hair to ride on their back at 4 months. On the other hand, male mountain gorillas normally start breeding at 15 years. This is because there is always competition for access to females given that at times there is male dominance of the females in the family.

The mountain gorillas live in groups/ territories which are formed by the males after bloody battles. In each group there is always one or more silver backs and 2-10 females and young ones. Though mountain gorillas are peaceful animals the silverbacks always kill the young ones not sired by them. This is aimed at stopping the captured females from weaning so that they can reproduce in the shortest time possible.
Like human beings, there’s always a male gorilla that heads the family and maintains discipline and order in that family by punishing the stubborn members either by beating or throwing out the culprit from the group.
There fore mountain gorillas and human beings are 98% alike genetically.
compiled by
jackie najjuka
gorilla safari consultant and uganda tours news.