Gorillas are an endangered species of apes living in the wilderness of central Africa in the Virunga massif area of Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Congo.
There are slightly more than 1000 mountain gorillas left in the world and half of them live in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Uganda. They live in groups of about 5-30 gorillas led by a dominant silverback who’s the group leader.
Gorillas share 98% DNA with humans which makes them humans closest relatives, they can cry, laugh and play just like humans they also have Nose prints specific to each individual just like human fingerprints.
Gorillas were almost extinct in the 19th century until the arrival of the famous American primatologist who was known as Dian Fossy. She dedicated her life to the conservation and study of mountain gorillas which later on led to her brutal murder in 1985 in her cabin at the Virunga ranges.
How Gorillas Adapt to the Environment
Mountain gorillas adapt to cold temperatures in the rainforests they live in, the thick and long fur helps them in the cold protecting them from diseases like cold, flu and pneumonia. The thick hair also protects them from insect bites.
Gorillas have adapted to socialization by use of body language and vocalization, gorillas also have expensive faces that help them to convey emotions, needs, and desires of other group members.
Gorillas are led by the dominants of each group known as silverbacks, this has helped them adapt behaviourally by living in families or groups as the dominant silverback dictates the daily activities like waking up, feeding and sleeping time.
Gorillas entirely exist on vegetation on their habitats they have adapted to living in the rainforest because they don’t need to spend their energy chasing prey.
Gorillas have fingers that help them to break shells off the fruits; their thumbs are bigger than other fingers. They also scream or rather hoot and use their arms for fighting, a silverback will fight to protect their family even if it costs death
Gorillas love to be secretive that is they can easily sense and detect danger and move away to avoid more problems.
Gorillas have flat teeth which helps them to chew and grind cellulose in their vegetation diet, the bacteria in their colons helps breakdown the food to digestible form by their large intestines and carbohydrates through fermentation.
Gorillas always use their arms for locomotion, the large muscles in their arms helps them in gathering foliage and movements.
Gorilla Trekking & Habituation
Mountain gorillas have been habituated for tourism purposes, gorilla trekking is one of a lifetime experience you should not miss in Africa, trekking may take several hours as they are always moving but as soon as you find them you will take time to observe this endangered apes for a period of an hour. A maximum of only 8 pax can visit a gorilla family in a day. Gorilla permits cost $1500 in Rwanda, $600 in Uganda and $400 in Congo.
Gorilla habituation only takes places in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Uganda, unlike gorilla trekking habituation takes a less number and you join scientists and researchers in the presence of mountain gorillas for four hours. A gorilla habituation permit costs $1500 only in Uganda.
The best time of the year to trek mountain gorillas is in the dry months of December to January and June to September. The wet season is likely to make your safari less interesting as it might rain in the process and trekking and the trails get very hard to get through.