All Facts About Mountain Gorillas you need to know

Filed in Uncategorized by on June 16, 2019 • views: 424

 

When you choose to go to Rwanda, Congo and Uganda for mountain gorilla trekking, its recommended to always find out a few facts about these endangered gentle giants. In this article, we point out some of the facts about mountain gorillas that every traveler out to know. The total population of mountain gorillas left in the world in estimated to be about 900. One gorilla population is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of East Africa within three national parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda, Volcanoes in north-west Rwanda and Virunga in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The other is found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Silver Back Gorillas
Silver Back Gorillas
  • Mountain gorillas are said to have over 98.5% DNA similar to that of humans
  • Mountain gorillas do have the same emotions as humans. They can laugh when you tickle them and also cry when you hurt them.
  • These primates eat about 49 pounds of vegetables a day for males and females eat slightly lower than that.
  • Mountain gorillas are the largest primates on earth. They weight spans up to 390 pounds for males and half about 240 – 250 for female gorillas.
  • Their baby beds are formed by vines leaves and branches.
  • Gorillas hardly drink water. they usually hydrate from eating plants.
  • Mountain gorillas live in groups that might have over 20 members. These troops usually last for over 20 years.
  • A newly born mountain gorilla averages a weight of approximately 4.5 pounds.
  • Gorillas can live up to 54 years of age.
  • When a male gorilla grows old, its hair of the back eventually becomes silver. This is where the word “Silverback” is derived from.
  • Gorillas often use their four limbs to walk. They hardly use their during all their mobility
  • Mountain gorillas do not have tails.
  • These primates are extremely intelligent. Habituated gorillas can use sign language to interact with humans.
  • Females Gorilla usually give birth after 4 – 5 years with an estimated gestation period of eight to nine months.
  • Female gorillas approach their a breeding stages after  about 10 years.
  • Gorillas construct nests for sleeping each evening and once in a while build one for their afternoon naps.

MORE MOUNTAING GORILLA FACTS

Mountain gorillas are as shy as they are strong.

Locals living near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park know this for a fact! A mountain gorilla will never chase you when you are facing it and looking directly into its eyes. However, you should know that when threatened they can be aggressive. They beat their chests and let out angry grunts and roars. Group leaders will charge at the threat and mothers will fight to the death to protect their young.

Mountain gorillas live in groups of up to 30.

The largest gorilla group or family ever studied is in Rwanda and is led by Cantsbee (now 38 years old!), who is the oldest known mountain gorilla in the whole world. A gorilla family is led by a silverback. These troops also include several younger males, adult and juvenile females, and infants.

Aged male gorillas are called silverbacks.

This name originates from the silver stripe they develop on their backs when they mature. The silver hair can be compared to the grey hair that humans develop.

The silverback gorillas ensure protection of the group.

In addition to providing protection to group members, silverbacks maintain order and decide all activities within their troop. They schedule feeding trips, resting time, and travel. They also father the majority of the young in the group.

Female mountain gorillas can start reproducing from the age of ten.

They carry one or two babies at a time and give birth after an eight and a half-month gestation period. In general, they will bear between two and six offspring in a lifetime.

Mountain gorillas are very interesting primates. Above are some of those interesting facts that you should know about mountain gorillas.

What To Do When A Gorilla Charges You

Gorillas are wildlife animals and despite the fact that they are 98% human DNA, precaution still has to be taken. The groups you will meet while trekking are habituated but that does not take away the fact that they are wild animals and things can change.

In case a gorilla charges at you, here are some of the things you will need to do.

 Study the gorilla’s behavior

A gorilla may vocalize loudly and pound, jump or slap the ground if angry. Gorillas that are curious will just grab or tug your clothes.

Stay calm, do not react

At this point it’s only human that someone will scream which will antagonize the gorillas

Be submissive

Gorillas hate looking directly into their eyes, so try as much as possible to look away.

Crouch down and make yourself as small a target as possible

Try to make yourself small such that the gorilla does not feel challenged. Gorillas are scared by anything that challenges their authority.

Stay quiet

An attack may include severe biting and pounding or tearing with the gorilla’s hands. Even if it appears that the gorilla means to harm you, do not actively resist or fight back: It will interpret this behavior as threatening and may attack more severely.

Groom

If the gorilla has gotten hold of you, begin to “groom” its arm while loudly smacking your lips. Primates are fastidious groomers, and grooming the gorilla in this fashion may distract the gorilla in a nonthreatening way.

As the gorilla’s grip relaxes, slowly move you’re grooming hand to the gorilla’s hand, showing keen interest in any bits of leaf or dirt on the gorilla.

Remain quiet and passive until the gorilla loses interest or until help arrives 

If the gorillas have its hands around you, do not try to remove them. The gorilla is much stronger than a grown human. You may try removing them but you can’t and this will cause problems as it will feel challenged.

HOW TO BEHAVE WHILE WITH GORILLAS

Once your group finds the gorilla family the clock starts ticking – the rangers keep on informing you about the remaining minutes to leave. Silence is needed when you are amidst the gorillas – move slowly and avoid sudden movements in order not to irritate the gorillas. Instead sit down and avoid looking directly into the eyes of the gorillas as this may also irritate them thinking that you want to fight them. It’s not a problem to look a gorilla in the eye, but if he begins charging at you, hold your ground but lower your eyes to indicate that you do not want a confrontation but rather you are submissive. Prepare your cameras and get ready to take as many photos as you want but please remember to remove the flash lights and sounds. The gorillas may be feeding from the ground resting, moving around or up in the trees playing about in the branches. Try to get yourself the best view for photographs and learn all their behavior. Follow them in case they are moving but at a recommended distance which should be not shorter than 7 meters. The most important thing is you staying near your guide and following his instructions always. The trackers will often clear the brush with their machete so you can get a clearer and closer look at the gorillas. It is incredible how graceful and peaceful these animals are, especially considering their incredible size. You’ll be amazed when you see the silverbacks (mature males) get up and move around showing control over the territory.

Do mountain gorillas have predators?

Apart from humans, gorillas don’t really have enemies. The only predator to prey on gorillas is the leopard. Walter Baumgärtel found the remains of several gorillas after they had been killed by leopards in the Virunga Volcanoes. Another case has been confirmed in Gabon, where a sick young gorilla was killed by a leopard.

When a group of gorillas feels threatened, the group members behave in a special way. Silverback males give off a particularly intensive smell and emit characteristic sounds. The other animals gather together and hug each other or gather around the male. It is one of the tasks of adult males to defend their group against attacks and to position themselves between the attacker and the group. Frequently, younger males take on this duty. They drive the group away from the source of danger and attack the enemy at the same time.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR FOR A GORILLA TREK?

Mountain Gorillas
Mountain Gorillas

WHAT TO PACK FOR GORILLA TRACKING IN UGANDA RWANDA AND CONGO

When travelling to foreign destinations it is always respectful to dress modestly and we suggest the emphasis is on comfortable clothing. It is often warm on the plains and at lower altitudes but cold in the hilly and mountainous areas of Uganda and Rwanda; a rain jacket, fleece and good quality walking shoes/boots are essential.

When tracking the gorillas and chimpanzees we recommended wearing sturdy clothing to help protect against scratches, i.e. long sleeve shirt, trousers and a good pair of lightweight walking boots. Protective leather gloves or gardening gloves are also useful, as well as a pair of gaiters.

As the temperature is variable and weather conditions can change; we also recommend taking a fleece or light jumper (layers of clothing are best especially with moisture-wicking undergarments) and lightweight breathable waterproof jacket/trousers or poncho. A small backpack is useful to carry your water, pack lunch, camera and binoculars. Walking sticks are available at the park head quarters as are porters (it is worth taking a porter as it provides local people with employment and they will give you a helping hand on any steep terrain).

Whilst on safari neutral coloured, loose fitting and relaxed clothing is the most appropriate. Most hotels and lodges have laundry services, so an excessive amount of clothing should be unnecessary. Please note that most hotels and lodges hand wash clothing.

Khaki / natural coloured clothing for safaris / trekking

  • 1 – 2 pairs of light weight trousers / slacks – that can dry quickly if wearing on treks
  • 1 Pair of shorts
  • 1 – 2 long sleeved shirts – preferably quick drying
  • 2 – 3 short sleeved shirts – preferably moisture wicking
Casual clothes for evenings
  • 1 – 2 pairs of light weight trousers / slacks
  • 1 – 3 sports / long sleeved shirts and / or blouse
  • 1 dress / skirt for ladies

Exterior clothing

  • 1 Lightweight waterproof / windproof / breathable jacket, e.g. Gortex / Event type fabrics
  • 1 Fleece, sweater or sweatshirt
  • Sturdy / lightweight waterproof walking boots – trousers / pants should be tucked into socks and boots while trekking (heavy soled rain boots or gaiters also work well)
  • 1 Pair of shoes for evening wear
  • 1 Pair of sports sandals will be useful, e.g. TEVA
  • Swimsuit (and a plastic bag for packing in)
  • Bush hat with a brim for sun protection
  • Underwear
  • Lightweight wool socks
  • Gloves – gardening or similar (for gorilla tracking only)

Miscellaneous

  • Towel – many lodges provide these, but if needed we suggest taking trek towels. These are lightweight, pack to a small size and dry quickly. Best to get a large or extra large.
  • Gaiters
  • Sunscreen and moisturising cream
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent with DEET, please note that DEET can effect man-made fibres and plastics.
  • Daypack / small rucksack
  • Binoculars
  • Alarm clock – though our staff will wake you
  • Ear plugs
  • Spare / extra batteries
  • Camera and extra lenses
  • Camera charger / converter / adapter for 220 / 240 AC voltage, plus cigarette lighter adapter is useful
  • Film – particularly fast film for the primates (400 – 1600ASA)
  • Personal toiletries /Prescription medicines and the prescription itself
  • Wet-wipes / tissues
  • Back-up glasses especially if you wear contact lenses
  • Wash cloth and plastic bag (if needed)
  • Ziplocs / dry bags and other plastic bags for keeping valuables dry or storing wet clothes
  • Torch / flashlight – LED models are light weight and have a good battery life
  • Sewing kit (needle, thread, safety pins)
  • Small notebook
  • First Aid Kit – including anti-diarrhoea medicine, rehydration sachets, aspirin, cold medication, antiseptic cream, band-aids (plasters), motion sickness pills, lip balm, eye drops and personal medication
  • Photocopies of your passport, visas, credit cards and airline tickets (it is advisable to have 2 sets to keep in separate places)
Mountain Gorilla

Mountain Gorilla

 

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