We inherited many of our anatomical and behavioural traits from them, but how much do you really know about gorillas? Here we explain some interesting facts about the famous Mountain Gorillas of Africa, and discuss the gorilla hotspots in case you’re thinking of booking a safari holiday away to go and see them.
Mountain Gorillas grow up to around 6 foot tall and can weigh anything between 300 and 425 pounds, although a male ‘Silverback Gorilla’ will grow up to twice the size to that of a female gorilla. Their average lifetime lasts around 53 years and they all have a predominately vegetarian diet, as gorillas do also eat termites). They live in dense forest or rainforest, and are found exclusively in the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
Gorillas are very similar to humans, and modern science claims that we evolved from apes into the human species we are today. The main similarity between the two species is the structure of their skeletons. But there are other similarities in our characteristics in that we want to maintain and protect our families and offspring. Gorillas can also contract human diseases such as pneumonia and sinusitis, with pneumonia being a big problem throughout the cold rainy seasons. The gestation period for a female gorilla is very similar to that of a female human, with a gorilla taking 8.5 months compared to 9 months of female human.
Gorillas and humans also display warning signs when they feel threatened, while humans may clench their fists or cross their arms; male gorillas often beat their chest to indicate irritation or to ward-off unwelcome visitors. Research from back in 2008 from the University of Sussex even suggests that we share the same facial expressions and mouth movements to convey our emotions, and these researchers even believed that we may have developed the human language from the species.
Mountain Gorillas eat a variety of plants; with favourites including wild celery, bamboo, thistles, stinging nettles, bedstraw and certain fruit. An adult male gorilla can consume more than 18 kg (40 lb) of vegetation per day. These plants also provide a sufficient amount of moisture so that Mountain Gorillas rarely drink water.
The methods these Gorillas use to obtain their daily vegetation are fascinating when you hear that an adult male can shred apart a whole banana tree to get to the interior tender pith. Gorillas will also never ruin their food crop as they will eat it in a manner that allows for the vegetation to quickly replenish.
Predators to the famous Mountain Gorilla only come in the form of leopards and human beings. Mountain Gorillas have been known to fall victim to traps which were originally in place to catch antelopes and other animals. Poachers also anger animal rights activists when they destroy entire family groups of gorillas, in their attempts to catch the families’ offspring for their local zoos.
The only places you can experience Mountain Gorillas in the wild are the rainforests of Rwanda and Uganda, where they are distributed between the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
We hear a lot of stories and watch plenty of documentaries about these gorillas and how they live and survive in the wild, but why not book your own safari holiday and discover these amazing mountain gorillas for yourself. It will definitely be a once in a lifetime experience.