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Mountain Gorillas: The Endangered Species

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Few animals have sparked the imagination of man as much as the mountain gorilla. The mountain gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. The gorilla is massive, with a short, thick trunk and broad chest and shoulders. Its eyes and ears are dwarfed by its large head and hairless and a shiny black muzzle. Older males develop a crown of muscle and hair that makes the head look even longer. The arms are longer than the stubby legs the fully adult male mountain gorilla is twice as large as the female.

Unlike what people imagine, the mountain gorilla is shy and retiring rather than treacherous, it usually seeks no trouble unless harassed but will valiantly defend its family group if threatened. Family groups are close-knit and may have up to 30 members, but even if smaller, the group usually consists of at least one older male, one or more females and a few juveniles.
Animals the size of a mountain gorilla need a lot of food, they eat a variety of plants, favorites include wild celery, bamboo, thistles, stinging nettles, bedstraw and fruits. These plants seem to provide sufficient moisture so that gorillas do not need water.

A Mountain Gorilla often has thicker and longer fur compared to that of other gorilla species; it’s this fur that enables them to live in colder temperatures. Males at a mean weight of 195 kg (430 lb.) upright standing height of 150 cm (59 inches) usually weigh twice as much as the females, and this subspecies is on average the second largest species of primates. Adult males have more pronounced bony crests on the top and back of their skulls, giving their heads a more conical shape. These crests anchor the powerful masseter muscles, which attach to the lower jaw, adult females also have these crests, but they are less pronounced. Like all gorillas they feature dark brown eyes framed by a black ring around the iris. Adult males are called silverbacks because a saddle of gray or silver-colored hair develops on their backs with age and like all great apes other than humans, its arms are longer than its legs and it moves by knuckle-walking supporting its weight on the backs of its curved fingers rather than its palm.

Life of The Mountain Gorilla

Scientists have learned details of the life of mountain gorillas in the wild in the last 30 years, they discovered a mountain gorilla as a diurnal animal, most active between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 pm. It spends most of the hours eating in large quantities with the need to sustain its massive bulk. Gorillas construct a nest from surrounding vegetation to sleep in every evening and only infants sleep in the same nest as their mothers. They leave their sleeping sites when the sun rises at around 6 am, except when it is cold and overcast; then they often stay longer in their nests.

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Most mountain gorillas live in inaccessible regions in various dense forests in tropical Africa, and. They can only be found and seen in Africa in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mountain Gorilla Population

There are two populations of mountain gorillas, one population is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The other population is found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park though some primatologists consider the Bwindi population in Uganda may be a separate subspecies although no description has been finalized.

In 2015, the Uganda Wildlife Authority released a census data estimating the number of mountain gorillas remaining in the world to be less than 900 and over 400 of those live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The rest live the chain of eight volcanoes known as the Virunga Volcanoes that runs through a western section of the Rift Valley, forming part of the border between Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo) and Rwanda. These spectacular mountains and the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda are the last refuges of the most endangered mountain gorilla.

Information on mountain gorillas shows they are actually increasing in numbers due to the protection they are receiving from the Ugandan government which involved the communities surrounding the parks being given a portion of the 500 dollar Gorilla tracking fees collected from foreign visitors to Bwindi.

The only surviving mountain gorillas are found in Africa and they are not in any other part of the world and the endangered mountain gorillas of Uganda won’t be found in any zoo as they can’t survive in captivity.

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