Mountain gorillas are an endangered subspecies of eastern gorillas inhabiting the subtropical and tropical rainforests of the Virunga volcanoes and Bwindi national park in Uganda, there are only about 1000 individuals left in the world. Mountain gorillas move in social structures of 5-30 individuals dominated by a silverback that organizes all the group activities daily and defends the group from any attacks from humans and other gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates and share 98% DNA with humans, when the baby gorillas are born they survive on their mothers breast milk until the age of about 4 years where they start feeding on their mothers diet and mainly cling on their backs.
Mountain gorilla lifespan
Female mountain gorillas reach sexual maturity at around 8-10 years before the male mountain gorillas at the age of 15-20 years; a female gorilla can produce its own baby by the age of 10. The gestation period for a female gorilla is 8-9 months just like humans though the fertility rate is low with only 1-2 fertile days in a month.
When mountain baby gorillas are born, they are vulnerable just like human babies they weigh only about 4pounds. The mother will carry the baby mountain gorilla up to 4 months before they start clinging on their mothers back, during this time the mother will breastfeed the baby until the age of 3-4 years.
At the age of 4 years, a baby mountain gorilla will now become an independent juvenile though not very mature. A dominating male who controls all the groups’ activities is known as silverback because of a grey patch of hair they start developing on their backs as they mature.
Silverbacks have access to all the females in the group and will not allow young or mature males to take over, the dominating silverback mates with all the group females without allowing other males to do so that’s why when males in the group become mature, they will challenge the dominating silverback in order to take over the family or will live the group to form their own family.
During mating, it’s the female mountain gorillas who follow the male mountain gorillas when their ready, when the female produces a baby they will not mate again until after about 4 years. Gorillas don’t have a mating season so they can mate any time of the year.
Mountain gorillas cannot survive for long in zoos; they have a life span of about 35-40 years. When they grow old gorillas may suffer from arthritis which damages their bones, hands and feet. The heaviest gorilla ever recorded weighed 267 kilograms and the tallest was 1.95 meters tall.