Gorillas are unique endangered species whose population is growing due to tourism. Tours to the gorillas help to raise funds for conservation works. Rwanda Gorillas gorilla Tour These great apes occupy most of the rainforest dominated areas in Africa in East and Central Africa. They come with features worth exploring on actual gorilla trekking adventure. In this article, we have put together some of the most amazing facts about gorillas;

Facts About Gorillas

Gorillas are the biggest of the great apes. A fully grown up male gorillas are bigger than females. An adult male gorillas can weigh between 300 and 500 pounds. When standing, a mature male gorilla can rise 6ft tall. The female gorilla weighs between 1500 and 200 pounds and can stand up to 4.5 feet tall. In short, the size of these apes does differ depending on the species and sex. In terms of strength, gorillas are estimated to be 10 times stronger than humans.

Closeness to humans –gorillas aren’t just huge but also share a lot in common with us humans. Over 98.3% of gorilla DNA is same to that of humans and they come second after chimpanzees and bonobos as human closest relatives in the wild.

Species in the wild –there are only 2 gorilla species to explore in the wild. They include Eastern and Western gorilla. The two species are further sub-divided forming a total of 4 sub-species of gorillas. The Eastern gorilla subspecies comprise Eastern mountain gorillas and Eastern lowland gorillas. The Western gorilla species forms the Western lowland gorillas and the Western cross-river gorillas.

Social life –gorillas like humans are organized in family groups also referred to as troops. In average, about 5-10 gorillas and up to 50 individuals can live in one group. They are polygamous where one dominant male (silverback) takes responsibility to mate the females in the group. The young keep within the troop till they become mature and to prevent inbreeding, these apes often move to new troops.

Reproduction –gorillas like humans produce young ones. The gestation period of females takes about 8 months to 9 months and they give birth –this is almost the same period most human females also give birth. These apes usually give birth to a single infant at a time. They take several years to nurture their young ones prior to getting pregnant again. The females reproduce once each 4-6 years and this is one reason why the population of these apes is hard to recover.

Gorillas are also emotional in nature. They can express themselves using different emotions including grieving and laughing. They have different ways to communicate to each other including chuckles, whines, grunts, whimpers, roars, hoots, screams, barks and more.gorilla trekking in mgahinga national park

These apes are highly intelligent –they can use different tools to perform certain tasks including sticks to measure the depth of river. Twigs for scooping food material and ladders from bamboo for their young ones to climb the tree.

Vegetarians –gorilla diet is composed largely of vegetation products. They feed on fruits, tree backs, leaves, and other succulent material.

Scientific names –different gorillas have their own scientific names that describe them. The mountain gorillas are scientifically referred to as Gorilla beringei beriengei- the subspecies of the Eastern gorilla and these are listed as endangered species by the IUCN.

The eastern lowland gorillas –Gorilla beringei graueri-listed as critically endangered subspecies of the Eastern gorilla. These are endemic to the montane forest areas of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) specifically in the Maiko National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park.

The cross river gorillas are scientifically referred to as Gorilla gorilla diehli. These are some of the most threatened apes in Africa. About 200-300 of these sub-species of Western gorillas still exist in the wild. The Western lowland gorillas are known scientifically as Gorilla gorilla gorilla.

Status –the Eastern and Western gorillas are categorized as critically endangered by the IUCN. The population of Eastern gorillas has kept on decreasing up to about 2600 of them still surviving in the wild. The survival of these great apes has been greatly impacted by a number of factors including poaching, invasive diseases, human interference through agriculture, habitat loss, wars and more.

Where to find gorillas

Gorillas are wide spread across Africa. They occupy African countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo (the best place to trace the Eastern gorillas); the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, D.R.C, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria –where Western gorillas live.2 days uganda gorilla trekking

These apes live in natural rainforests and build nests each day for a night stay. Gorillas live above 1400 meter elevation and their habitat may comprise bamboo forest, sub-alpine grassland, mixed forests and more.

Life cycle –female gorillas can become sexually mature when they reach 7-8 years. The male counterparts become sexually mature at 15 years.

Life expectancy –in the wild, gorillas can live up to 50 years. Gorillas behave in the manner that females can leave a group at maturity stage and join another family or the single male gorilla to begin a new group. The practice plays a significant role in preventing inbreeding among these apes.

How they walk –gorillas walk by knuckling –they use all the 4 limbs and can stand upright.

Differentiation –each gorilla features a distinct nose print, a unique factor that differentiates these apes from each other.

Places to go for gorilla trekking

Get the best of gorilla trekking experience in any of the 4 National Parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda. These 2 parks feature 5 sectors –Buhoma, Nkuringo, Rushaga and Buhoma in Bwindi, Ntebeko in Mgahinga.

In the D.R. Congo, visit Kahuzi-Biega National Park to interact with the habituated eastern lowland gorilla family (5 groups are all open for tourism here) and explore mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park with 8 habituated families.

While in Rwanda, visit Volcanoes National Park in Ruhengeri where 12 habituated mountain gorilla families peacefully live. This park is the most accessible among the gorilla parks where visitors spends only 2-3 hours to drive from the heart of Kigali.