Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, which makes the life-changing experience of visiting them in their natural habitat even more extraordinary and precious. There are said to be less than 900 African mountain gorillas left in the wild, although exact estimates vary - 700 (National Geographic) and 880 (World Wildlife Fund). The rare opportunity to see a family of gorillas in pristine rainforests, is not only one of the ultimate wildlife experiences in Africa, it is also a once-in-a-lifetime expedition that sadly may not be possible in the future.
The endangered impressive Mountain Gorillas in Uganda don’t live in any zoo across the planet since they cannot survive in detention and thus there aren’t any known mountain gorillas surviving within zoos. These can only be found and seen in Africa, in just three countries including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. There are approximately 786 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world with approximately half of them staying in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest plus the Mgahinga Gorilla Park within Uganda found in East Africa.
When you talk about Gorillas imaginative thoughts cross anyone’s mind; with thoughts of Tarzan movies and King Kong. Mountain Gorillas weren’t known about by the western world until 1902. Rwanda then a German colony, Captain von Berenge was mountaineering Mount Sabinyo on the side of Rwanda together with his friends and at 9300 foot-level where they camped, they spotted a group of Mountain Gorillas and there he shot 2 of them although managed to retrieve just one. The victim was a young-male approximately five years of age, not too big at 220 pounds, however larger than all apes the Germans had ever seen. The Bones plus skin were later forwarded to Berlin and there it was acknowledged as a mountain gorilla.
Nobody had imagined that gorillas could stay in a high and colder environment than West -Africa. The news of gorillas attracted hunters to the region, especially within Congo and there several Mountain Gorillas where shot and others captured. Actually Prince Wilhelm from Sweden shot fourteen mountain gorillas in an expedition within this region done from 1920 to 1921.
The Belgians launched a Mountain Gorilla preservation’s program and later followed the English who did it in Uganda. Within Uganda for several years no one was allowed to receive visitors to see these Mountain Gorillas. Within Kisoro, Walter Baumgärtel was offered permission to establish visits for tourists to his beautiful Traveller’s Rest Inn, a facility where up to date you can stay within Uganda. Baumgärtel wrote an interesting Book “Up among the Mountain Gorillas” which actually is about his personal encounters with the tranquil giant apes in southern Uganda. It is a great book with reference to a man, the attractiveness of the Uganda’s countryside and an inn, and generally about the fascinating Mountain Gorillas and Uganda gorilla safari. Actually Dian Fossey lived there on a frequent basis similar to George Schaller a many other renowned personalities.
The majority of Gorillas which you may have seen in a zoo are the lowlands gorillas of western Africa, and the mountain gorillas are actually a subspecies known as Gorilla beringei beringei. These can only be found in the wilderness of the Virunga highlands of Rwanda within Volcano Park found in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park as well as Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and the Virunga National Park found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These parks are found only 48 km from each other. Within Uganda as well as Rwanda these parks can be accessed easily, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to the rebel activities that happened, there was a probable threat to the lives of visitors. Click here for more information about Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda
There are more than seven hundred and eighty six mountain gorillas in the whole world. Uganda hold close to half of their total population, and the majority of them live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, whereas the others are found in Mgahinga Gorilla Park, however these at times cross over to Rwanda. Fortunately the Gorillas are growing in numbers because of the protection they are offered from the government of Uganda which also included efforts of the adjacent communities to the parks to whom part of the USD 500 fee of Gorilla tracking permits charged from foreign visitors to Mgahinga as well as Bwindi is offered.
Usually The Males are two times the size of the females, they may grow to 6 ft tall and even weigh 350 -500 pounds. These are strong, with long arms and muscular. The males are referred to as the silverback because as they mature the hair on their back turns somewhat silver, hence the name Silverbacks. The strength of the males is ten times stronger compared to the strongest boxer, even taking steroids. The arms of silverbacks can stretch to 7 feet
Mountain Gorillas possess longer plus darker hair compared to their lowland counterparts because they stay in colder climates and higher altitudes. Their life span is between 40 and 50 years.
The mountain gorillas mainly stay on the ground although they will climb a tree occasionally given that it can support them, however just like children, their young play in the trees.
A fascinating fact is that Gorillas plus Humans are share 98% of their genetic composition.
Uganda has two places where these Mountain Gorillas may be seen, one is Mgahinga Gorilla Park; a stunning park and a component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda, and then in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest supports the hugest Population of Mountain Gorilla. It is a ancient forest also called the “Place of Darkness.” The tree cover makes it very dark within this forest. The forest’s altitudes are between 1,160m and 2,607m above sea level. The Bwindi plus Mgahinga each possess varying characteristics as well as similarities. The Bwindi isn’t an extinct volcanic region while the Mgahinga is.
Mgahinga Gorilla Park sits on higher altitudes and the Mountain Gorillas move up and feed on some of the afro-montane vegetation. Typically Mountain Gorillas eat large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, roots, bamboo and shoots in season. The Adults can consume up to 75 pounds each day.
The day of a Mountain Gorilla starts at 6 am up to 6pm with a snooze around lunch time. Uganda receives Light just past 6 am and darkness falls around 7pm.
These move every day to different locations where they make nests using twigs plus leaves and spend their night. Some people have found these reasonably comfortable, just enough to actually slumber in.
Visitors into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest frequently inquire if mountain gorillas are dangerous? Although dominant and very strong, these are gentle as well as shy, and in addition the mountain gorillas which visitors see within Uganda have been habituated. In other words they are habituated to people, which process that takes close to 2 years. Dian Fossey actually was against the idea of visiting mountain gorillas which is done today, however it’s the money collected that survival of this endangered species, and seen their number increase over the recent years.
While mountain gorillas are threatened they do attack so as to protect their very own. When different Mountain Gorilla groups meet, there is a fight between the leader Silverbacks to death. Recently 2 Silverbacks fought within Democratic Republic of Congo and the rangers had to intervene.
Mountain gorillas exist in groups which differ in size from 2 – 30 or 40, however commonly in groups of 10. There is no specific mating season while babies are born through the year. The Males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years. Females can give birth after every 2 to 3 years giving birth to 4 – 6 offspring through their lifetime.
Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group.
Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers
The supreme threat to the Mountain Gorillas is human encroachment for settlement around them. previously there was a slash as well as burn mentality however, through an educational program by the Uganda Wildlife Authority plus cash motivation to the community through the tourism industry that the gorillas within Uganda are today no longer as threatened by various poachers as it was in the DRC. Additionally they are threatened by various diseases transmitted by human visitors into the park, and for that reason the Uganda Wildlife Authority has set up strict rules to prevent spreading of such diseases.