Mountain gorillas are from kingdom ‘Animalia’– Phylum ‘Chordata’ – Class ‘Mammalia’. Order ‘Primates’. Family ‘Hominidae’. Genus ‘Gorilla’. The scientific name of mountain gorilla is ‘Gorilla Berengei Berengei’. According to UNESCO world heritage center, these creatures are classified as endangered species. They are located in Africa and specifically Central and Eastern Africa.
Facts about mountain gorillas.
The main food for mountain gorillas includes; leaves, seeds and herbs. They live and inhabit the tropical rainforests and forested mountainous areas. Their commonly known predators are the leopards because of their swiftness and ability to climb trees at great speeds. However, for generations now, the greatest predator of mountain gorillas is the human being. Human beings have been devastating the livelihoods of mountain gorillas by encroaching and also poaching them.
As far as their feeding is concerned, mountain gorillas are omnivorous animals. As a similarity to humans, mountain gorillas are social creatures. They are classified as mammals. For hundreds of years, these mountain gorillas have been living in isolated mountainous and forested regions, known as the Virunga ranges in East Africa.
Genetics and physical characteristics.
Mountain Gorillas have various skin colors, including brown, black and gray. These creatures are not listed among the fastest land mammals and can cover an average of about 25 meters per hour. Their life span can extend to an average of 35 to 50 years. Since they are humongous creatures, each gorilla weighs about 204 to 227 kilograms.
Mountain gorillas scientifically have a 98.4% DNA similarity with humans. This similarity falls short of that of the chimpanzees and bonobos as compared to humans.
Mountain gorillas have a lot of similarities with humans. Just like people, these creatures also have family units. A group of mountain gorillas is known as a “troop or family.” Just like a human family has a head, the mountain gorillas also have their own leaders that are unknown as dominant silverbacks. More interesting about this fact, is that the dominant silverbacks retain authority on dictating how the troop should run day-to-day activities and also mating rights.
One would assume that these creatures do not regard the issue of inbreeding. Female mountain gorillas in a specific family keep on alternating and migrating from one family to another in order to have children from other families so as to avoid inbreeding.
Location of mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are located in Central and Eastern Africa. These live in Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south western part of Uganda. These areas are mountainous, forested with a mixture of some bamboo plantations on which this species feed.
Population of mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas once lived in hundreds of thousands in population, but with the rapid expansion of human activity such as settlement and natural resource exploitation, the majority of these creatures ended up being killed, maimed, and consequently losing their habitats. In the recent century therefore, their population has greatly diminished.
They are estimated to be about 1,000 mountain gorillas living in the Virunga region. About half of that population is located in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park, whereas the remaining population is figured to be inhabiting the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Because of this background, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed them as endangered species.
Conservation status of mountain gorillas.
Conservation and protection activities are expedited by the respective governments in which these creatures are located in form of issuing stringent laws to curb negative human activities such as poaching and encroachment on the forests in which mountain gorillas live.
Research has also increased in order to find better conservation practices and protection measures. It’s also a way of ensuring proper livelihoods of these primates.
Presence of these creatures has led to emergence of activities, including mountain gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation experiences. Habituation exercise, however takes an extensive time before these creatures are classified as human-friendly. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has over 20 habituated gorilla families, whereas Mgahinga National Park has one habituated mountain gorilla family.
Virunga National Park in D.R Congo has 10 habituated mountain gorilla families. Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park also has 12 habituated gorilla families that are granted access to tourists every day.