Gorillas are Apes
The closest relatives of gorillas are chimpanzees and humans, all of the Homininae having diverged from a common ancestor about 7 million years ago. Until recently, gorillas were considered to be a single species, with three subspecies: the western lowland gorilla, the eastern lowland gorilla and the mountain gorilla. There is now agreement that there are two species with two subspecies each.
Western gorilla (G. gorilla)
- Western lowland gorilla (G. g. gorilla)
- Cross River gorilla (G. g. diehli)
Eastern gorilla (G. beringei)
- Mountain gorilla (G. b. beringei)
- Eastern lowland gorilla (G. b. graueri)
Where to See Gorillas
Gorillas are large apes that are native to Africa. They are typically divided into two groups. The mountain gorilla lives in the mountainous regions of central Africa, while the lowland gorilla lives in the flat, dense forests of central and western Africa. Though the two types are very similar, they have a few differences. For example, mountain gorillas tend to have longer hair, whereas lowland gorillas have short and soft hair.
Another difference can be derived from their size as Lowland gorillas are 4 to 6 feet tall and weigh between 68 to 181 kilograms whereas mountain gorillas are about the same height, though they tend to weigh a bit more to a tune of between 135 to 220. Its on this fact that gorillas are considered to be the world’s largest primate.
Habitat wise, mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on green, volcanic mountains. Lowland gorillas live in the forests of central and western Africa in Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Would you like to see the gorillas in the wild? Why not take a gorilla safari to Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are several tour operators who offer this kind of tour within these countries.
How Do Gorillas Look Like?
There are some peculiar descriptions about gorillas that really need to be noted down in a bid to differentiate them from other primates and such attributes include;
Gorillas’ arms are longer than their legs. This allows them to walk on all four limbs while still remaining somewhat upright. These primates are very intelligent. They can use simple tools and learn sign language.
Gorilla beds are called nests. Young gorillas often make their nests in trees, and older gorillas make their nests on the ground. Gorillas usually don’t need to drink water from lakes or streams. They get all of the moisture they need from their food and morning dew.
How Do Gorillas Live?
Gorillas live in groups. Groups of gorillas are called troops or bands. A band of gorillas can have as many as 50 members, though sometimes a band consists of as few as two members. Troops are led by a dominant male, called a silverback, which can often be identified by a grey strip of hair on his back.
Food and Diet
Gorillas are generally herbivores. They usually eat vegetation such as wild celery, shoots, roots, fruit, tree bark and tree pulp, but they have been known to eat small animals and insects. A male gorilla can eat up to 18 kg of vegetation each day.
Gorillas’ exact diet depends on where they live for instance about 67 percent of a lowland gorillas diet is fruit; 17 percent comes from leaves, seeds and stems; and 3 percent comes from termites and caterpillars .While the mountain gorilla eats a diet that is about 86 percent leaves, shoots and stems; 7 percent roots; 3 percent flowers; 2 percent fruit; and 2 percent snails, ants and grubs.
How Do Gorillas Spend a Day?
Each time of day has its purpose for a troop of gorillas. Mornings and evenings are designated as feeding time. In the middle of the day, gorillas take a nap, play with other gorillas or groom one another. At night, the gorillas settle down in beds, made from leaves and twigs, to sleep.
Sex and Reproduction in Gorillas
Like humans, female gorillas are pregnant for nine months and usually give birth to only one infant at a time. Newborn gorillas weigh about 1.8 kg. From the time they’re about 4 months to 2 or 3 years old, young gorillas ride on their mothers’ backs as a form of transportation.
At around 7 to 10 years, the young gorilla will become mature enough to have its own offspring. At this point, the gorilla will leave its mother’s group to find a mate. Gorillas can live around 35 years in the wild and more than 50 years in zoos.
These primates have seriously reduced in number mainly due to human activities. They are hunted and their habitat has been destroyed by mining and agricultural activities on top of hunting and poaching for bush meat thus a belief that the total population has decreased dramatically.