Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of Eastern gorillas that live in the Virunga range volcanoes straddling across Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in southwestern Uganda. Mountain gorillas were almost being extinct in the 19th century but survived due to the conservation of efforts of the great American primatologist Dian Fossey who dedicated her life to the conservation of mountain gorillas that later on led to her death in 1986 from Rwanda.
Mountain gorillas share 98% DNA with humans making them close relatives with chimpanzees; they have nose prints unique to each individual just like humans have thumbprints. They live in higher elevations of volcanic mountains with thick and long fur that helps them adapt to the cold temperatures.
Mountain gorillas live in groups of 5-30 members dominated by a silverback gorilla that makes the decisions in the group day to day activities. They entirely feed on vegetation though they sometimes supplement their diet with ants, insects and termites.
How many Mountain Gorillas are left?
According to research in 2018, there are only 1,004 mountain gorillas left in the wilderness compared to 2010 where the population was estimated to be 786 individuals. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park has got half the mountain gorilla population.
The number of mountain gorillas is believed to have increased by 26.3% in the last seven years with an average of 3.7% annually, conservation efforts have greatly improved since 1981 when the census estimated only 254 individuals in the wild.
In Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, the population indicated an increase of 6% in 2006 compared to 2002, the population is said to have increased by 12% increase from 1997 to 2006 in Bwindi forest national park.
Mount gorilla population is estimated by traditional methods of collecting dung samples from nests, has been found that gorilla families habituated for research experience a higher population growth than unhabituated mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas were removed from the list of critically endangered apes and depend on conservation efforts to survive; mountain gorillas face a lot of threats from poaching, habitat loss, disease outbreaks war and civil unrest and so much more.
Where to trek Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas can be trekked from Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in Uganda, Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gorilla permits cost $600 in Uganda, $400 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and $1500 in Rwanda. Gorilla permits in all the above countries should be obtained in 3 months advance before flying to the country due to high demand for permits, especially during the season.
Mountain gorillas can be visited all year round in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda though some months are better than the rest. The best time is from December to February and June to August. Mountain gorillas live in higher elevations that experience cold temperatures and sometimes rainfall even during the dry seasons, tourists should be prepared by carrying the right gorilla trekking attire like good hiking boots, raincoats, warm clothes, energy snacks, drinking water, sunscreens, hats, insect repellents, garden gloves and many others.