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Mountain Gorilla Behavior

Mountain Gorilla Behavior

Mountain Gorilla Behavior

Looking to know the Mountain Gorilla Behavior? Mountain gorillas are endangered species of primates living in volcanoes national park in the northwestern part of Rwanda, Virunga national park in eastern DR Congo, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, and Mgahinga gorilla park in southwestern Uganda in the whole world. Mountain gorillas are human close relatives sharing over 98% human DNA alongside chimpanzees and bonobos.

Mountain gorillas are herbivores animals that feed mainly on vegetation such as stems, leaves, bamboo shoots, fruits, bark, roots, flowers and sometimes supplement their diet with insects, ants, or termites. They do live in groups of 5-30 individuals dominated by silverbacks which dedicated all the group activities and are responsible for mating. they are called silverbacks because of the grey patch of hair they develop on their backs when they are mature, the biggest predators of mountain gorillas are human beings and sometimes leopards.

Behaviors of mountain gorillas

Mountain gorillas stay in social groups of 5-30 individuals, the group’s compromise of silverbacks, juveniles, females, infants, black backs, sub-adults dominated by one silverback which dictates all the group activities for the day. The silverbacks do everything possible to protect the group members even if it can lead them to death.

Mountain gorillas regularly rest during noon hours and this aids them in the group closeness, during resting the female mountain gorillas train their young ones as well as associate with other young group members.

Mountain gorillas mainly feed on vegetation such as bamboo shoots, leaves, stems, bark, pith, fruits, and sometimes supplement their diet with ants, insects, and termites, they hardly take water reason being the food they eat is sufficient with moisture. Mountain gorillas eat about 25 plant species.

Mountain gorillas fear caterpillars and chameleons for unclear reasons and a baby mountain gorilla is found of following every crawling thing but will give away to a caterpillar or a chameleon.

A female mountain gorilla is the one that follows a male gorilla when she is ready for mating. The female mountain gorilla has a gestation period of 8 and a half months and once a baby is born, it will breastfeed and abstain from sex until the age of 4 years.

Female mountain gorillas breastfeed their young ones until four years and they have 1-2 fertile days in a month and this has made their birth rate so low. A mountain gorilla gives birth to 4-6 offsprings in their whole lifetime. A newly baby mountain gorilla weighs about 1.8kgs to 2kgs

Mountain gorillas make new nests every day using tree branches and leaves around them, they feed from the morning to midday and rest which helps them to bond and females to groom their babies and later resume eating until evening hours where they again make nests

Mountain gorillas are shy, peaceful, and gentle animals but can become aggressive and violent when they feel disturbed or insecure. They charge by beating their chest, stumping the ground, tearing and throwing vegetation, making loud hoots and grunting, and can sometimes release a strong odor that can be smelt by human beings about 26 yards away to mark their territories.

Mountain gorillas fear water and hate rain or getting wet, they normally use sticks to measure the depth of the water before crossing to avoid getting wet. When temperatures are low, mountain gorillas are found of gathering together in the same area and remain motionless for some good time so as to warm themselves up. When mountain gorillas are still young, they are very playful and sometimes participate in games of wrestling. Silverbacks are sometimes found playing with females on some occasions.

Where to see mountain gorillas in Africa

Mountain gorillas can be seen in Virunga national park in eastern DR Congo with 8 habituated gorilla families open for tourism, volcanoes national park in northwestern Rwanda with 20 habituated gorilla families of which 10 are research and 10 are open for tourism. Lastly is Uganda with Bwindi impenetrable forest national park having more than a half mountain gorilla population and 20 habituated gorilla families and Mgahinga national park with only one habituated gorilla family Nyakagezi.

When is the best time to trek mountain gorillas?

DR Cong, Rwanda, and Uganda are in the same climatic zone they have the same months which are better than others for gorilla trekking. The best months for gorilla trekking are the dry months of December, January, February, June, July, August, and September. It’s during these dry months that the roads leading to the park are accessible and the trekking trails are in the park are not muddy or slippery. If you need to trek mountain gorillas in the dry season you are advised to book your permit in advance of 3-4 months to avoid inconvenience.

What is the price of gorilla trekking?

Everyone needs a valid gorilla trekking permit to trek mountain gorillas in their natural habits and the permits can be booked through tour operators, Uganda wildlife authority, Rwanda development board, or Virunga national park website. Rwanda gorilla permits go for $1500; DR Congo permits go for $450 in the dry season and $200 in the low season while Uganda gorilla permits go for $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and shs250,000 for East African citizens. Gorilla permits are not sold to persons below the age of 15 years

What to pack for gorilla trekking?

The packing list for gorilla trekking experience includes waterproof hiking shoots, light backup, a pair of gaiters, waterproof jacket, long-sleeved clothes, camera and extra batteries, binoculars, drinking water, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, drinking water, energy-giving snacks, walking stick, insect repellents, face mask, and sanitizer.

Mountain gorilla threats

Poaching

Mountain gorillas are mainly killed by traps set for other animals such as antelopes and the young ones are poached for sale to rich people as pets or to private zoos forgetting that these gorillas cannot survive in captivity. This is slowly reducing because there is increased patrolling using armed guards in the protected areas and there are also Research Centers that rescue mountain gorillas from poachers.

Habitat loss

This comes as a result of rapidly expanding human settlements which destroy gorilla habitats and there has also been the fragmentation of forested areas which has resulted in the isolation of gorilla groups from each other thereby reducing genetic diversity. This is been overcome by expanding of areas of the national park to protect gorilla habitat.

Diseases

The outbreak of diseases such as Ebola claimed the lives of so many mountain gorillas since they have a weak immune system to fight disease. Diseases also come as a result of regular contact of trekkers with mountain gorillas which increases the transmission of diseases from human beings to the mountain gorillas. the domestic animals around gorilla parks and livestock can transmit diseases to these gorillas. conservation efforts such as educating local communities to minimize the impact of livestock, telling trekkers to keep a distance of 7 meters away from gorillas, avoiding touching mountain gorillas, and not permitting people with communicable diseases such as flu, cough, and diarrhea are being done.

War and civil unrest

There is a lot of insecurity most especially in DR Congo and this has forced refugees to cut down trees to create settlements and farms. There is also increased poaching of mountain gorillas for meat and mountain gorillas are also killed by land mines placed along forest paths.