Mountain Gorilla Trekking
Uganda is ranked among the countries that are rich in nature and culture, but there’s more — the countries most famous status as the world’s habitat for the biggest population of the mountain gorillas, the most fascinating creature, the largest primate that is still alive and the most endangered ape. The mountain gorillas of Uganda speak to your imagination!
Let`s tell you more about these gentle giants and our gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.
Home of the great apes
The great apes family includes the chimpanzees, Orang-utan and of course the gorillas as the giants of the ape family. the gorillas are known in three categories; the western lowland gorillas-which are normally seen in the zoos, the Eastern Lowland Gorillas which are still thriving in the Eastern rain forests of Congo and the Mountain gorillas- which is the most endangered with a population of less than 900 that are still thriving in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, but Uganda inhabits more than a half of their total population which makes it an ideal destination to see mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda is the best destination to track mountain gorillas.
Lifestyle of the Mountain Gorilla
The gorilla is groups also known as families of about 15 to 30 members in one family and every family is lead by a male Silverback followed by the females and their young ones. At the time of birth, a gorilla weighs about 2.5kgs which is almost similar to that of a new born human baby. After birth, the young gorilla grows twice more than that of a human baby and at the age of 3years, a gorilla begins to become independent. At the age of 6years, a gorilla weighs an average of 70kg and at this level, the female gorillas are considered to have grown but they still continue adding weight and size. Male gorillas are considered to be mature at the age of 10years. When they start developing grey hair on their back and at this level, the male gorilla starts planning to quit the parental group. The Silverback will then start staying alone as it attracts males to join him and, in the process, another gorilla group/ family is formed. The gorilla population doesn’t grow rapid because they reproduce at a very slow rate. In every 4years, a female gorilla gives birth once and to one baby. And because of many diseases and accidents that attack these apes, 30% of young gorillas don’t survive their first year after birth. Sometimes the young gorillas are deliberately killed especially by their step fathers. Once a male gorilla dies or is overthrown by another silverback, the new head tends to kill the step children so that he secures his own genes in the future.
Comparing Humans and Mountain Gorillas
It is true that the chimpanzees are our closest relatives on earth but the gorillas resemble humans in even more aspects. The hands and feet of gorillas are not different from those of humans, gorillas are able to walk like us and similarly, they spend most of their time on the ground. We share almost 98% of our DNA with the gorillas! The gorillas express their feelings by at least 20 different vocalizations and meaning, ranging from jealousy to shame, loving and hating. In order for the Silverback to show his power or intimidate others in the family, it beats on the chest and perhaps this is the only form of communications that is not common among humans. The gorillas are very gentle, peaceful and loving. The gorillas show very impressive looks and they rarely show aggression. Incase the gorillas are attacked, they collaborate and fight the enemy. They rarely fight and the fights happen when the leaders of different groups meet.
Silverback Dominant Mountain Gorilla thinking
Mountain Gorilla Social Life & Hierarchy
The hierarchy of leadership in gorillas in very important and clear. The Silverback dominates the gorilla family and the mother gorillas rule over their young ones. The ranks among gorillas are based on power and size, the silverback is usually bigger than any other group member. Silverbacks can weigh up to 200kg and have a weight of about 1.7meters. besides being strong, the leader must have a proven record of experience and abilities since it is mandated to protect the family against any attack or danger.
A Day in the Life of the Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas start their normal day at around 6am with a search for food. To rate the day of gorillas, 40% of their day is spent at rest, 30% is spent on feeding and 30% of their time is spent on travelling. The home of the gorilla family ranges about 20 square kilometers and on a day, gorillas cannot move more than a one kilometer.
Mainly, gorillas feed on vegetables but can occasionally eat ants and other insects. They forage on leaves, roots, vines, shrubs, pith of herbs, fruits and stems.
They gorillas eat a lot; an adult male can eat 20kg in a day! But since they feed on diet with high water content, they don’t usually drink water. In the afternoon, they tend to rest while the young ones are playing. In the evening before dust, the gorilla group begins to build nests. Every gorilla sleeps alone except the young ones which sleep with their mothers. The nests are made of tree branches and other plants built on the ground.
Conservation of the Gorillas
It is absolutely known that Mountain gorillas are world’s most endangered animals and to sensitize people to protect the gorillas, people have been given high chance to visit the gorillas at a small fee and the revenues generated from the visitors is used to benefit conservation.
But for successful gorilla trekking the gorillas had to be habituated first and this is a careful process which requires at least two years. In Uganda, there are special trained rangers which approach the gorillas carefully and spend a lot of time with them. Gorilla habituation and not an easy task to both the people and gorillas. The gorillas can easily get diseases from the humans and at the same time, the habituation can make the gorillas feel threatened, especially the Silverback; it can easily attack the people in the process of habituation. Please endeavor to maintain and respect the rules given to you by the officials during gorilla habituation and mountain gorilla trekking.