10 Facts About Gorillas
10 Facts About Gorillas are some of the most fascinating things about mount gorillas that one might find interesting to know before they decide to embark on a gorilla trekking safari. Having plans to go gorilla trekking and you don’t know anything about the gorillas but you really want to find out more about the gorillas before you meet them and make you gorilla trekking experience interesting and fun, here are 10 facts about gorillas that will leave you surprised once you come in contact with the gentle giants.
Top 10 Facts about Gorillas
1. Gorilla Types
There are four different types of gorillas that are categories into groups the western and the eastern gorillas. These are characterised with different features, sizes, strengths, physical appearance, diet, habitat among other characteristics. The eastern gorillas have two subspecies that is; mountain gorilla eastern low land gorillas, the western gorilla has two subspecies as well including western low land gorilla cross river gorilla.
- Eastern Gorillas: The eastern gorilla is a critically endangered gorilla species that have distinct features. The eastern gorilla is divided into two subspecies the mountain gorilla and the eastern lowland gorilla which is also known as the Grauer’s gorilla. With a total of 3800 in the whole world where 1000 are mountain gorillas. These can be found in countries Uganda in Bwindi impenetrable national park, Mgahinga national park in Rwanda, they can be seen in Volcanoes national park. In Congo, they can be found in Virunga national park, Salonga national park. The eastern low land (Grauer’s gorilla) gorillas can be found in Kahuzi Beiga national park, Maiko national park. Interested in gorilla trekking in Rwanda, you can pay 1500$ to participate in the activity, gorilla trekking in Congo is at a fee of 400$ and gorilla trekking in Uganda at a fee of 600$.
- Western Gorillas: Just like the eastern gorilla, the western gorilla has two subspecies the western low land gorilla and the cross river gorilla which have different characteristics and features. The cross river gorilla can be found in Cameroon and the western lowland gorillas in Noubale Ndoki national park and Ntokou Pikounda national in Congo.
2: Gorilla Habitat
Gorillas are found in Africa where the conditions are necessary for their survival, in Africa, they are found in the equatorial region. On the western side of Africa, they live in the western region that is in Cameroon and Nigeria where we can find the cross river gorilla. In East Africa, they can be found in the Virunga Mountains that is the eastern gorillas and in other parts of Congo we can find the western lowland gorillas. It should be noted that gorillas are interested in areas where there is plenty of food and other necessary resources to meet their daily needs. It should be noted that when gorillas are picking an area as a habitat they put much emphasis on the fact that they are able to meet their needs. Since there are different gorilla species, these have specific and different habitats that they live in.
- The Eastern Gorilla: The Eastern lowland gorilla can be found in the eastern part of Congo in Maiko national park, Tayna gorilla reserve, Kahuzi Biega national park, and Itombwe Mountains. The gorillas are mainly found in the mountain tropical forests and the lowland forest. In some instances, the eastern gorillas can also live in marshlands with less dense forest vegetation as long as there is a good supply of food. Mountain gorillas, on the other hand, inhabit the areas in the Albertine rift where we find mountainous tropical forests where their habitats are found at an altitude of 4300 metres. The mountain gorillas are mainly found in the Virunga Mountains which in Virunga national park, Mgahinga national park volcanoes National Park, in areas especially mount karisimbi, mount Bisoke, Mount Muhabura and mount Mikeno and in the rich vegetation of Bwindi impenetrable national park.
- Western Gorillas: The western low land gorillas are found in Cameroon, Angola, Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. However they can also be found in Congo but in small numbers as compared to the other countries where they can be found. The western lowland gorillas can be found in the lowland tropical forests as their main habitat but some can also live in the swampy areas, riparian forests and in humid and rainy areas with plenty of vegetation that is a source of food. The cross-river gorillas are found along the cross river basin in Cameroon and Nigeria, among the gorilla species, it is the shyest one among all and because of this they inhabit areas with less contact with humans that is why they are usually found in high altitudes of about 1500- 3500 metres above sea level in bamboo and mountainous rain forests. And just like other gorilla species, they live in areas abundant with food resources.
3: Physical Description
- Eastern gorilla: The eastern gorilla namely the Grauer’s gorilla and the mountain gorilla have the same features but they differ is size, height, colour and so on. All eastern gorillas have broad chests, large heads, long arms with flat noses. Interesting about the eastern gorilla is the fact that when they get old, their face, hands, feet, and breasts become bald. in all the eastern gorillas i.e. the mountain gorillas and the eastern lowland gorilla their fur is black in color but in the adult males, their fur on the back is light grey to white in colour which gives off the silver colour which is the reason why they are called silver backs however the eastern lowland gorilla is bigger and heavier than the mountain gorilla. Among the eastern gorillas, adult males are larger and heavier than females whereby they can be over 40 kilograms heavier than an adult female. Adult male gorillas can grow up to a 140kg-205kg and females at 90-100 kg.
- Western gorillas: The western gorillas are lighter in colour than the eastern gorillas. unlike the black hair/ fur on the eastern gorillas, western lowland gorillas have black, dark grey or dark brown-grey fur and their foreheads are slightly brown in color. The western gorillas have an average weight of 157kg in males and 80kg in females which is less than that of the eastern gorillas making the eastern gorillas heavier than the western gorillas. Comparing the cross river gorillas to the western low land gorilla, they have shorter heads compared to the western low land gorillas. The cross-river gorillas have hairless blackface, shaped eyebrows, and chest, small ears, bare shaped brows as compared to the western low land gorillas.
4: Gorilla Diet
The gorillas regardless of the type are herbivores animals that mainly feed on fruits, leaves, tree barks, stems, fruits among other vegetation types but in seasons where fruit is readily available, they prefer fruit to any other food source but it should be noted that fruits are available in certain seasons which means they eat other food sources like leaves and in some instances, they can feed on small insects like caterpillars, termites, snails, ants larvae and so on. Gorillas rarely drink water because the food that they consume contains water, therefore, it is very hard o see a gorilla taking water straight from its water source. It is believed that a gorilla can consume up to 18 kilograms of food a day this helps them to maintain their health and become strong. Among the gorilla species, eastern lowland gorillas, western lowland gorillas are very much interested in fruit and they can move longer distances of 500 metres daily in search of fruit than any other gorilla species.
5: Social Structure
Just like the chimpanzees, gorillas also live among groups however the gorilla groups are small in numbers compared to the chimpanzees. The gorilla groups are dominated by a strong silverback who usually goes into power by fighting with other silver backs in the groups and the winn]er emerges the dominant silverback of the group who is taken as their leader. The dominant male is the only silverback that has the right to mate with other adult females in the group and this is some of the reasons why some adult black migrate from their homes and go and start their own groups in order to mate with other females.
In cases where dominant silverback dies, the gorilla group disperses and migrates to other groups and it is noted that the mother separates from its offsprings among the different types of gorillas which is not the case for the eastern low land gorillas which sticks with its offsprings until they get new silverback. Infants in a group are more susceptible to being killed in their infant stages when the silverback dies because of them being a threat to leadership in a group so in order to avoid such scenarios they are killed however this is not so common among the gorillas because the females protect their offsprings.
Among the female gorillas in the group, they act aggressively among one another because of the need for attention from the dominant silverback and other males in order to get chances of mating and protection from any harm. However related females have closer relationships with one another whereas the males in the groups are usually connected during social gatherings like playtime, grooming time and so on.
6: Gorilla Reproduction & Parenting
This is one of the top 10 Facts About Gorillas. The dominant silverback in every group is highly polygamous which makes him sleep with many of the adult females in the groups; he can sleep with any female in the group. When the female is in ovulation, she will pursue the male by making lip movements and eye contact with them, she can also be seen slapping the ground which acts as an indication that she is ready for sex.
Once the male is enticed, he will show interest by touching the female and thus intercourse. In scenarios where the females get pregnant it takes 8.5 months for the female to give birth to an ‘’infant’’ which is a baby gorilla per delivery but in some instances though rare occasions they can give birth to twins which is evident among the Congo gorilla family wherein the Munyaga group, the adult female Bilali gave birth to twins but unfortunately they died after birth. This gorilla family can be seen during gorilla trekking in Congo.
The infants sleep in the same nest as the mother and its the duty of the dominant male or the dominant silverback to protect them from any harm. It is also the duty of the mother to nurture the young ones, teach them the basics of survival, and groom them. When a baby gorilla/ infant gets to the age of three years, they are able to leave their parents nests and sleep in their own nests but near the ones of their mothers for protection. After the three years, the infant is weaned and the adult female is able to ovulate again and can get pregnant as soon as possible.
7: Gorilla Communication
Communication is a key fact among the top 10 Facts About Gorillas. A gorilla regardless of the type has different ways of communication which can be seen during daily activities. In cases where the gorilla sees food in an area while they are traveling in their different gorilla groups, they can be heard grunting sand barking as a way of drawing the other gorilla attention to the area. During social interaction, when a gorilla is heard screaming and roaring then there is a possibility of a nearby threat which can be a result of wild animals coming into their territories, conflicts among the group these are usually produced by the silverback.
Belching and rumbling can be heard during satisfaction during breast feeding of an infant, contentment they are also heard during the time when they are resting. Gorilla communication is characterised by different displays for instance once a fight is about to break out among the gorillas, in order to resolve the conflict, they display nine steps of actions to settle the aggression among one another that is they can be seen; hooting, symbolic feeding, rising on their feet, throwing vegetation, thumping their chests, one leg kick, sideways running which is usually done one four limbs or by rising on their feet, tearing the vegetation to let go of the frustration and at last slapping the ground to show that they have ended the conflict this is a quite interesting display once seen because of the formal way of settling their conflicts.
9: Gorilla Threats & Conservation
The eastern lowland gorillas were believed to be 17000 in numbers but today they are half their initial number, the mountain gorillas are above 1004 in number due to the improved efforts of non and governmental organizations, strict laws against poaching, increased patrols that has helped to combat poaching. The cross-river gorillas, on the other hand, are about 200- 300 in the entire world, the western lowland gorillas are 300,000 in number which beats all other gorilla numbers but this also comes with a number of threat including poaching for their skin, palms which are used as ashtrays and so on. The numbers also reduce because of contact with humans for instance in congo a number of gorillas were killed because they seemed like a threat to human life because of the fact that they were living in areas where mining is of great potential and thus they killed the gorillas in order to carry out mining. Other threats include diseases, warfare in the different parts for instance in Congo where a number of eastern lowland gorillas were killed.
10: Distinction from one another
Another interesting fact among the top 10 Facts About Gorillas is their distinction from one another just like the way humans have unique fingerprints for easy identification, the same applies to the gorilla’s nose prints. Gorillas in the wild can be distinguished from one another with their unique nose prints.