Mountain Gorilla Facts
The question of what gorillas eat is dependent on the nature of their habitat and the season of the year. Primarily, Mountain gorillas feed on parts of green plants unlike their counter parts the lowland gorillas which prefer a lot of fruit.
It should be noted that during the dry season, there are few juicy fruits in presence which prompts the gorillas to consume a lot of seeds and tree barks - something always seen while on gorilla safaris in Uganda or in Rwanda.
Considering the fact that fruits grow on trees, gorillas of all age ranges tend to climb up the trees in quest of these fruits.
It should further be noted that although western gorillas prefer fruits to leaves pith, stems and shoots, they cannot surpass the percentage of fruit consumption exhibited among their colleagues – the Chimpanzees and Orangutans. The Chimpanzees and the Mountain gorillas can be seen on your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and Rwanda.
The Mountain Gorillas that inhabit the Virunga Volcanoes shared by Rwanda, Uganda and Congo and the pre historic forest of Bwindi in Uganda draw their food from about 38 varying species of plants majorly thistles, nettles, celery and galium.
This stands in contrast to the western gorillas which draw their food from about 200 species of plants majorly from arrowroot and ginger families.
It can further be noted that an adult male gorilla is considered to be consuming 30kg of plants daily while a mature female can consume about 18kg.
Gorillas process these quantities of food with the help of their chewing muscles that are quite strong and their teeth that are much like human teeth except the long pointed canines that are only possessed by mature male gorillas which are not used for feeding but rather for fighting other competing gorillas.
Besides plant species, gorillas also take in quantities of soil though irregularly which is considered to be neutralizing the poisonous substances contained in their food and that the soil contains some minerals that are missing in their plant foods.
Additionally, gorillas cannot kill big animals for food but rather consume small animals mostly insects though it forms like 0.1% of their food intake.
Where Do Gorillas Sleep?
Gorillas like most of their primate colleagues, sleep in nests which they patch in the trees or on the ground in consideration of various variables like vegetation and the security conditions.
It should be noted that every evening, gorillas construct new nests – something that is evidenced on your gorilla trekking safari in Uganda and this cannot be avoided even if it is very close to the nest that slept in the previous night.
Another thing to note is that, Infants or call them baby gorillas are the only ones exonerated from the task of making nests as they spend over nights with their mothers.
Gorillas enter into their nests at least one hour before the dark however on rare cases they also build nests for midday rests.
The process of building a gorilla nest is not an easy task. Building ground nests involves pulling bush branches and other plants into the center where they are layered and anchored to each other.
The other plants are then bent in to create a nest rim. This is in contrast to tree nests which are built in branch forks and other related structures.
What is mainly considered with tree nests is that the nest has to be designed to accommodate the gorilla weight that’s why it’s common for young gorillas and female gorillas to spend their overnights in trees because of their relative light weights compared to the heavier Silverback.
These nest dynamics are always seen while carrying out gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda or Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
What Do Gorillas do All The Day?
Gorillas are always active from 6am to 6pm. Gorillas tend to have daily routine and events seem too follow each other chronologically.
Even on your gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda, you have a chance be part of this routine. Gorillas move out of their nests early in the morning to commence their foraging consuming as much vegetation as they can before resting in the late morning and midday.
Gorillas forage again in the in the afternoon until they rest at night. Unless it is cold and overcast which prompts gorillas to stay longer in their nests, they tend to depart their nests at dawn 6am.
Mountain gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park of Congo where gorilla trekking safaris are always conducted spend almost half of the day foraging while the periods of rest consume almost a third of the day.
Gorillas use about 6.5% of their available time for moving from point to the other and about 3.6% of their time to engage in social activities.
The social activities of gorillas normally occur mostly in their rest periods which are mostly around midday.
The midday period is very significant in the social lives of gorillas since it the time for them to interact with their partners and time for young ones to play without any interruption.
Do Gorillas Have Enemies?
This is a question to contemplate deeply about especially when it relates to the critically endangered mountain gorillas which are mostly sought of on Uganda gorilla safaris. It should be noted that apart from humans, the gorillas do not certainly have enemies.
Among the animals that have been registered to have an influence on the life gorillas are Leopards. This predator has been recorded in Virunga Volcanoes to have an effect on the lives of gorillas.
For example Walter Baumgärtel came across the remains of a range of gorillas that had lost their dear lives at the hands of dangerous leopards in the area. A similar case was recorded in Gabon where a leopard killed a sick young gorilla.
Upon being threatened, the behaviors of gorillas change and the family members behave differently. The Silverbacks – which are very amazing to encounter on gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda release a concentrated smell with distinguishing sounds.
Other gorillas congregate in one place and share hugs or sometimes congregate around the silverback. Since it the responsibility of the Silverback to defend and offer protection to the whole gorilla family, they normally stand in between the group and the attacker.
However, most of the times, the youthful male gorillas take on this task and they eventually take the group away or attack the enemy at the same time.
Are Gorillas Afraid of Water?
Gorillas like other apes including humans find it hard to swim naturally which prompts them to desist from expanse water masses like Lakes and Rivers.
It has been recorded however that both adult and young gorillas like to play around with water. While in quest of their food, gorillas tend to walk through swamps on their two legs keeping water levels up to their waists.
In case of heavy down pour, gorillas tend to stay in static position waiting for it to settle down. Assume there is a shelter nearby in form of a cave or any related feature, gorillas will approach it and sit below it for until the rain is done.
However, interestingly to note that these endangered apes usually encountered on Gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda cannot use branches or large leaves to cover themselves unlike their counter parts orangutans and bonobos which tend to apply this tactic.
Do Gorillas Climb?
Primarily, gorillas dwell on ground and can only spend 5 – 20% of their daytime in trees in contrast to their primate counterparts – Chimpanzees which spend 47 – 67% of their time in trees and Orangutans spending close to 100%.
Yes, Gorillas tend to climb to take advantage of fruits or play around in the tree branches. Gorillas tend to climb quad-rupedally and they rarely jump from branch to branch or brachiating.
It should be noted that because of the great weight that is normally possessed by Silverbacks and other mature male gorillas, it is very hard for them to get off the ground to climb high to the fruiting trees which have branches that cannot bear their weight.
What illnesses do Gorillas Suffer From?
It has been noted that gorillas can acquire many human diseases and it is upon this background that those on gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda have to keep a minimum distance to reduce on this risk.
Mountain gorillas tend to inhabit the areas with wet and cold climate which in turn tend to cause respiratory tract diseases especially Pneumonia thus claiming some of the Mountain gorilla lives.
Gorillas of Bwindi, Volcanoes, Mgahinga and Virunga hardly develop teeth cavities. It has been noted that Mountain Gorillas rarely suffer from this disease because they take less fruits thus take in low sugar content.
However, the bad tartar of Mountain gorillas causes Periodontitis which dissolves the Jaw bones and eventually causing the loss of teeth.
The Mountain gorillas also have parasites mostly intestinal parasites (worms or Protozoans) which are also experienced among the human beings.
However, some of these specialize in these critically endangered mountain gorillas which are normally sought for on gorilla safaris in Uganda.
Since gorillas are under the poaching threats, they normally experience hurts when they land their foot or hand in snares. Gorillas sustain wounds which in turn get infected that gorillas end up losing their lives in the process.
Gorillas are not very far to be attacked by viruses like Ebora. Such Viruses can be transferred from humans to gorillas and vice versa.
Thus it is important for gorilla trekking undertakers to prove their health status first before going for gorilla safari in Uganda and Rwanda.
Where do Gorillas Live?
Gorillas have to be noted that they survive exclusively in the African tropical forests. Gorillas live exclusively in the tropical rain forests of Africa.
However, the scale of distribution is divided into two separate parts which have about 900km in between the Western gorillas and the Eastern gorillas.
This can be attributed to the area changes that occurred during the ice age which caused the shrinking of the rain forest to a few refugee areas.
This gave rise to Savannah occupancy in between the refugee areas which was never ideal for gorillas and after the renaissance of the rain forest in the area, gorillas could only draw to Congo and Ubanji Rivers.
Due to long time of separation, western and eastern gorillas have since developed distinct paths and have since developed differences in their genetic makeup and external Characteristics.
Mountain Gorillas – the world’s critically endangered apes only survive in the Virunga Volcanoes that comprises of three National Parks that are distributed in three countries that is Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.
They also exist in the pre-historic forest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda which is the haven for gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda.
How Much Space Does a Gorilla Group Need?
Gorilla groups do not necessarily require distinct territories and neither do they defend such areas againstconspecifics. Gorillas roam in what is called the home ranges whose size is dependent on the food availability.
The home ranges are always larger where the food sources are widely dispersed. In case of abundance of nutritious and high quality food plants, the distance in between the feeding sites reduces.
However, the more members the gorilla family possesses, the further will it roam and the extensive is the home range which at times causes variation in gorilla trekking times among different gorilla groups.
Interestingly, the home ranges have various vegetation zones that are seasonally utilized and they always stretch between 4 & 8Sq.km though they can extend in less fertile areas to about 30km2.
It should also be noted that the home ranges sometimes overlap and the home range of one gorilla group could be wholesomely be within that of the other.
Gorilla families move averagely 0.5 – 1km to forage daily which also depends on food availability. Gorillas can also stretch to extended distances to visit trees with particularly cherished food.
This also tends to determine the gorilla trekking hours on travellers’ gorilla safari tours in Uganda and Rwanda.