The Gorillas

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Mountain Gorilla
Encountering these gentle giants is a highlight in any African journey!
Uganda’s star attraction is the endangered mountain gorilla, the bulkiest of living primate, and among the most peaceable. Staring into the pensive brown eyes of these gentle giants is as humbling as it is thrilling. George Schaller famously stated that "No one who looks into a gorilla's eyes – intelligent, gentle, vulnerable – can remain unchanged, for the gap between ape and human vanishes, we know that the gorilla still lives with in us"
Captain Robert van Beringe was the first western person to “discover” a mountain gorilla in 1902. Writing about them to a wider audience, the mountain gorilla was up to this year totally unknown to western scientists although the lowland gorilla had been known earlier. The mountain gorilla was thought to be a new species of gorilla and thus named “Gorilla berengei” in honor of the captain. It was later regarded to be a subspecies and renamed “Gorilla gorilla berengei”.
With approximately 50% of the world’s mountain gorilla population, it’s easy to see why we call Uganda the ‘Land of the Mountain Gorilla’. The best place in all of Uganda to witness the mountain gorilla is Bwindi National Park. Bwindi is very heavily forested so it is wise to be prepared for some tough mountain gorilla tracking, but it will all be worth it as soon as you catch your first glimpse of these amazing animals. The other park that is inhabited by a mountain gorilla troop is the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However this park is at the confluence of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda and the troops range can take them into these other countries.

More About Gorillas:

Gorillas are the largest of the great apes and share 97% of their biology with human beings. A gorilla’s DNA is 97% - 98% identical to that of humans, so it is not surprising that their name actually derives from the Greek word ‘Gorillai’ which literally means a ‘tribe of hairy women’. In fact the Gorilla is the next closest living relative to humans after the two chimpanzee species.
Gorillas used to inhabit a swathe of land that cut across central Africa, but the ice age diminished the forest the forest s and divided the gorillas into three groups- the western lowland gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla and the
Gorillas are the largest primates in the world, native to the lowland and mountain forests of western and central equatorial Africa. There is no doubt that mountain gorillas are a very rare species and both lowland and mountain gorillas are under threat.

Unless you and me have more of an incentive to protect these beautiful creatures, the future of the gorillas will never be secure.

Gorillas are almost entirely herbivorous. They eat berries, roots, shoots, fruit, leaves, bark, bamboo and wild celery, and occasionally ants. An adult male can consume up to 30 kilos of food each day. As well as having fingerprints, gorillas also have unique 'noseprints'.
The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is recognized as a sub-species of the Eastern Gorilla. Longer and darker hair distinguishes the mountain gorilla from other gorilla species; these physical characteristics enable it to live at high altitudes were other gorilla species would be immobilised by the cool temperatures.

Lowland Gorillas:

Lowland gorillas are endangered, but they remain far more common than their relatives, the mountain gorillas. They live in heavy rain forests, and it is difficult for scientists to accurately estimate how many survive in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lowland gorillas tend to be a bit smaller than their mountain cousins. They also have shorter hair and longer arms. Gorillas can climb trees, but are usually found on the ground in communities of up to 30 individuals. These troops are organized according to fascinating social structures. Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur. Troops also include several other young males, some females, and their offspring.
The leader organizes troop activities like eating, nesting in leaves, and moving about the group's three-quarter- to 16-square-mile (2- to 40-square-kilometer) home range.
In the thick forests of central and West Africa, troops find plentiful food for their vegetarian diet. They eat roots, shoots, fruit, wild celery, and tree bark and pulp.
Female gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. Unlike their powerful parents, newborns are tiny—weighing four pounds (two kilograms)—and able only to cling to their mothers' fur. These infants ride on their mothers' backs from the age of four months through the first two or three years of their lives.
In captivity, gorillas have displayed significant intelligence and have even learned simple human sign language. In the wild, these primates are under siege. Forest loss is a twofold threat; it destroys gorilla habitat and brings hungry people who hunt gorillas for bushmeat. Farming, grazing, and expanding human settlements are also shrinking the lowland gorilla's space.

Mountain Gorillas:

Mountain gorillas are threatened by poaching, loss of habitat, human disease and war. Accidents from snares set for bush-meat can result in the loss of a hand or foot, and septicaemia from injuries can be fatal. Loss of habitat is now the main factor in their survival.
There are generally considered to be two species of Gorilla and at least two subspecies of each. The Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is recognized as a sub-species of the Eastern Gorilla. Longer and darker hair distinguishes the mountain gorilla from other gorilla species; these physical characteristics enable it to live at high altitudes were other gorilla species would be immobilised by the cool temperatures.
Mountain Gorillas live only in the mountain rainforests of central Africa, in the Virunga Volcano conservation area on the borders of Rwanda, Congo and Uganda, and just 25 miles away in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
Mountain gorillas are social animals that live in close family groups of around 5 to 40. A typical family may have an adult male silverback leader, some adolescent black back males and several females with their infants. A silverback may weigh over 200 kilos (twice as much as a female gorilla and three times as much as an average human) and be 1.7 to 1.8 meters tall when standing. Females usually conceive at around 8 to 9 years with their first baby being born before age 10. Pregnancy lasts 8 and a half months. Infants are weaned at about 2 years, but will 'comfort suckle' as long as their mother lets them, or until she gives birth again - usually after around 3 to 4 years. Males will usually reproduce before the age of 15.
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