Mountain gorillas inhabit the subtropical and tropical rain forests of East and central Africa in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda. Gorillas are humans close relatives next to Bonobos and chimpanzees sharing 98% DNA. Mountain gorillas are an endangered species of primates with less than 1000 individuals left in the wild, the main threat to mountain gorillas is habitat loss and poaching done by humans for several reasons.
The dominating silverbacks organise all the group daily activities and defend the group from attacks. Female mountain gorillas mature sexually before males at the age of 8-12 years, their birth rate is very low with 1-2 fertile days in a month and a female can produce only about 4-6 offsprings in a lifetime. The gestation period for gorillas is 8-9 months.
About Mountain Gorilla habitats
Mountain gorillas live in the volcanic slopes of the Virunga massif ranges of Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, Virunga national park in Congo and Bwindi and Mgahinga national park in Uganda. They live on high elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet.
Mountain gorillas have thick and long fur compared to other great apes that help them survive in cold conditions where temperatures drop to freezing level. Mountain gorillas feed on shoots, bark, leaves, fruits, stems and pith found at the slopes of the volcanoes they live in.
Mountain gorillas cannot survive for long in zoos other than their natural habitats of tropical forests, rainforests and dense forests. Rainforests consist of layers; emergent layer, canopy layer, understory layer and forest floor layer. Mountain gorillas live in forest floor layer of rainforests but all the layers help the inhabitants to survive.
Mountain gorilla habitat is being threatened due to human settlement, mining, deforestation, bush burning, clearing of land for industrial use and farming. As mountain gorilla habitat is encroached by humans, this has forced mountain gorillas to move to higher elevations which are very cold and unfavourable leading them to get diseases like pneumonia.
Gorillas make nests daily on the ground using tree branches and leaves, young baby gorillas share a nest with their mothers until the age of 4 where they can sleep in their own nests but close to their mothers, they also sometimes sleep in the same nests especially during the rainy season and can contract nests to rest from at day time.
Trekking Gorillas in their natural habitat
Gorilla trekking can be done in Bwindi and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in Congo. Gorilla permits must be obtained three months advance before the final trekking day to avoid disappointments of no permits available after arriving in the country where you will trek gorillas from.
Gorilla permits cost different prices depending on the country where you will trek gorillas from, Rwanda charges $1500 per person, Uganda $600 per person and the Democratic Republic of Congo charges $400 per person. All the national parks where you can trek gorillas from experience the same type of climate, therefore, the very best time to visit is from June to September and December to February.