Mountain Gorillas

In science, the mountain gorillas are known as Gorilla beringei beringei and are noted to be the descendants of the ancestral monkeys which are known to have lived in Africa and Arabia at the beginning of the Oligocene epoch about 34 – 24 million years ago. Despite the poor record of their evolutionary history, it is believed that the primate group which evolved into gorillas separated from the common ancestor along with the chimpanzees and humans about nine (9) million years ago and the initial relative of mountain gorillas is known as Proconsul Africanus. The mountain gorillas are known to have separated from the Eastern lowland gorillas about 400,000 years ago while the two are believed to have separated from the western lowland gorillas about 2 million years ago.

According to IUCN classification, Gorillas are in two sub species namely the Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei. However, this classification has not been an easy matter. The genus was first referred as Troglodytes in the year 1847 but in 1852, it was renamed gorilla. A taxonomist Colin Gloves in the year in 1967 suggested that gorillas should be divided into three Sub species namely Gorilla gorilla gorilla for the western low land gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gruaeri for the eastern lowland and Gorilla gorilla beringei for the mountain gorillas.  This was reviewed by IUCN and categorized them in their current setting.

Mountain gorillas in Uganda are known to be vegetarian animals that on rare occasions enjoy the supplement from the insects. They are shy and less offensive creatures though with frightening eyes and body features.  The mountain gorillas are the most powerful of all the apes and an adult gorilla can weigh up to 275kg with a height of 1.7m (6ft).

The Mountain gorilla fur is noted to be thicker and extended in length than that of other gorilla species which gives them the capacity to thrive in colder temperatures.  The Mountain gorillas are distinguished by the nose prints that are distinct to every individual. The male gorillas feature an average weight of 195 kg and stretch to 150 cm in height while standing upright and they at times weigh twice that of female gorillas. The female gorillas feature a mean weight of 100 kg and stretch to 130cm in height.

The Mountain gorilla sub species are noted to be the second largest Primate Species second to Eastern Low land gorillas. The adult male gorillas feature more notable bony crests which appear on top and the at the back of their skulls presenting their heads with a more conical shape. The crests get hold of the strong temporalis muscles that are attached to the lower jaw. The mature females also feature crests but are less prominent.  The Mountain gorillas like other gorillas feature dark brown eyes that are framed by a black ring surrounding the iris.  It can be noted that adult male gorillas are referred to as Silverbacks as a result of a silver patch that develops on their back coming along with age. The hair on the backs of the mountain gorillas is noted to be shorter unlike on other parts of the body while the long hair is on their arms.

The mountain gorillas are recorded to be terrestrial (land dwelling) and quadrupedal (walking on four legs). It can also be noted that the mountain gorillas will climb the trees to extract fruits provided the branches can contain their weight and the mountain gorillas can run bipedally up to 6m. Just like in most of the apes unlike humans, the mountain gorilla arms are noted to be longer in length than the legs and it applies knuckle-walking to support the weight on the backs of curved fingers other than the palms.

Mountain gorillas are noted to be diurnal and are active between 6am and 6pm and considerable hours of this period is spent foraging lots of food (vegetation mostly) that is needed to fill its gigantic bulk. The mountain gorillas forage in the morning, rest around midday, forages again in the afternoon and then retire for overnight. Every gorilla puts up a nest from the available vegetation and it does this every evening and cannot sleep in the previous nest even if it is at a very close distance. However, the infants tend to share with their mothers. The mountain gorillas depart their nests at dawn 6am unless it very cold and overcast which forces that forces them to delay in their nest a bit.

Mountain gorillas in Uganda are noted to be thriving in the cloud montane forests in the Albertine rift that stand at an altitude of 2,200–4,300 m above sea level.  These are distributed into two separate but close ranges with the Virunga Volcanoes which is a chain of eight volcanic mountain stretching from Congo through Rwanda to Uganda and the detached Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the south west of Uganda.  It can be noted that the vegetation on these raised altitudinal landscapes is very dense and it definitely gets scarce when approaching the higher elevations of the Mountains. The mountain gorilla forests are noted to be misty, cloudy with cold conditions.