Mountain Gorillas Habitat
Mountain Gorillas, the large and strong apes inhabiting Africa’s volcanic slopes, has few natural predators and due to detrimental human activity, such as poaching, civil war, and habitat destruction, the Mountain Gorilla, has become the most endangered type of Gorilla. Mountain Gorilla’s habitat is limited to protect National Parks in two regions of Africa. Some Mountain Gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda and others are spread over three National Parks in the Virungas mountain region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda.
Mountain Gorillas are as shy and very strong and when threatened, they can be aggressive. They beat their chests and let out angry grunts and roars. Dominant males will charge at the threat. Mothers will fight to the death to protect their young.
Mountain Gorillas live in families of up to 30. The family or troop is led by a single alpha male, and always a silver back. These males are called silverbacks because of the silver stripe they develop on their backs when they mature. The oldest males of the family are at least 12 years old. These troops also include several younger males, adult and juvenile females, and infants.
In addition to providing protection to family members, silverbacks maintain order and decide all activities within their troop. They schedule feeding trips, resting time, and travel as well as overnight stay. They also father the majority of the young in the group.
Female mountain gorillas can produce young beginning at the age of 10. They carry one or two babies at a time and give birth after an 8.5-month gestation period. In general, they will bear between two and six offspring in a lifetime.
Newborn Gorillas weigh about 1.8 kg (4 lb.) at birth. They are very weak and uncoordinated just like human babies. The first four years of their lives, they get around by clinging to their mothers backs. By 3.5 years of age, the young Gorillas are fully weaned from their mother’s milk and start the same diet as mature Mountain Gorillas and feed on plants, leaves, roots and shoots.
Fully-grown male Mountain Gorillas can weigh up to 180 kg. Females weigh half that at about 90 kg. Aside from the silver stripe on their backs, male Mountain Gorillas are distinguished from females because they have a crest of fur on their heads. Both genders have similar thick black hair covering their body. Their thick hair keeps them warm in cold mountain temperatures.
Mountain Gorillas are considered critically endangered. Not only are Mountain Gorillas threatened by loss of habitat due to human encroachment for settlement, they have also become victims of human violence. As civil war rages in Africa, efforts to conserve Mountain Gorilla populations have been curtailed. Mountain Gorillas have also been killed or captured by poachers. Their body parts are sold to collectors, and baby Gorillas are sold illegally as pets, research subjects, or private zoo animals.