Mountain Gorilla Habitat
Mountain Gorilla Habitat is always a higher elevations of subtropical and tropical rainforests of some of the East and Central African countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Mountain gorillas are close relatives to human beings with over 98% DNA and other primates related to humans are chimpanzees and bonobos. Mountain gorillas are endangered species of mountains with about 1070 mountain gorillas left in the wild. The main threat to mountain gorillas is habitat loss, diseases, and poaching done by human beings for different reasons.
Mountain gorilla groups are led by a dominating silverback which dictates all the daily activities, leads the group, and defends the group from attacks. Female mountain gorillas become sexually active before male gorillas at the age of 8-10 years, they have a very low birth rate with 1-2 fertile days in a month and a female gorilla takes 8-9 months to give birth. A female gorilla produces 4-6 off springs in a lifetime.
Where do mountain gorillas live
Mountain gorillas live in the volcanic slopes of the Virunga massif ranges of Virunga national park in eastern DR Congo, Volcanoes national park in northwestern Rwanda, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, and Mgahinga gorilla park in southwestern Uganda. They live at high elevations of 8000-13000 ft in tropical and sub-tropical rain forests.
Mountain gorillas have thick and long fur compared to other apes that help them to survive in cold conditions at the high elevation of mountains with temperatures dropping to freezing level. Mountain gorillas cannot survive in zoos but they can survive in tropical forests, sub-tropical forests, rain forests, and dense forests. Gorillas live in forest floors later of tropical and sub-tropical rain forests but all the layers help the inhabitants to survive.
The highest number of mountain gorillas can be found in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park located in southwestern Uganda. The Park has more than a half of the gorilla population in its tropical rainforest and 20 habituated gorilla families which are open for gorilla trekking every day. Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla families open for trekking; DR Congo has 8 habituated gorilla families open for trekking.
Mountain gorillas make nests on a daily basis on the ground using tree branches and leaves, young baby gorillas share the same nests with their mothers as they learn to make their own. At the age of 4, the young gorillas can sleep in their won nets but next to their mothers. During the rainy season, they can sleep in the same nests and can contract nests to rest from the daytime.
What do mountain gorillas eat?
Mountain gorillas are herbivores animals feeding mainly on vegetation such as stems, leaves, shoots, barks, roots, fruits, pith, and sometimes and sometimes supplement their diet with ants, insects, and termites found on the slopes of the volcanoes they live in.
Mountain gorilla threats
Mountain gorillas are threatened by traps and snares that are set to capture animals for meat such as antelopes, human beings who poach, hunt, and trade gorillas for meat and traditional beliefs, habitat loss where forests are cut down for timber, agriculture, industrialization, and road-building activities. Another threat to mountain gorillas is diseases like the outbreak of Ebola in the 1990s killed a lot of mountain gorillas since they have a weak immune system to fight diseases.
Trekking mountain gorillas in their natural habitat
Mountain gorilla trekking can be done in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga gorilla park in the southwestern part of Uganda in Kabale and Kisoro districts, Virunga national park in eastern DR Congo, and volcanoes national park in northwestern Rwanda.
Price of gorilla trekking permits
Gorilla permits costs differ depending on the national park you will trek gorillas from, Rwanda gorilla permits cost $1500 per person per trek, Uganda gorilla permits cost $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 for foreign residents, and shs250,000 citizens of East Africa. lastly, DR Congo permits are the cheapest costing $450 in the dry season and $200 in the low season. Gorilla permits are only sold to people above the age of 15 and you are advised to book your gorilla permit in advance of 3-4 months before arriving in the country to avoid disappointments of no permits most especially when you are planning to trek in the high season.
What is the best time to trek mountain gorillas?
All national parks where gorilla trekking is done experience the same type of climate however the dry season which happens in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February is the best time to trek. During the dry months, there is less or no rain fall with roads leading to the parks accessible and the trekking passable because they are less slippery and not muddy.
Rules and regulations of gorilla trekking
- Before heading out into the jungle all trekkers gather at the park centers where they are taught about the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking. The rules and regulations taught by the wardens include.
- Only 8 people are allowed to trek a single habituated gorilla family per day
- Washing your hands before going into the jungle to look for gorillas
- Keeping your rubbish with you until you leave the jungle
- Keeping your voices low
- Keeping a distance of 7 meters when you meet mountain gorillas
- Not eating, drinking, or smoking near mountain gorillas
- Following rules and regulations such as crouching down, walking away, and not looking directly into the eyes of mountain gorillas when they charge
- Not touching mountain gorillas because they are wild and can attack you
- Not using sign language when you are with gorillas for they can interpret them differently
- Using cameras with flash to take mountain gorillas photos as this can make them charge
- The maximum time to be around mountain gorillas during trekking is 1 hour and during gorillas, habituation is 4 hours.
What to carry for gorilla trekking?
For one to have the best trekking experience they need to carry along warm long-sleeved clothes, a pair of gaiters, good hiking boots, sunscreen, rain jacket, garden gloves, a lot of drinking water, energy-giving snacks, a pair of binoculars, a face mask, sanitizer, good quality camera, insect repellents, walking stick and so much more.