Mountain gorillas are subspecies of Eastern gorillas, living within the Virunga Mountains that occupy the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. These gorillas are the most endangered among all gorilla species, and most threatened by human activities. As the name suggests, mountain gorillas live in highland forests at an altitude of 8000 to 13000 feet. This is because they have thick fur and long that enable them to live in these cold conditions.

There are two populations in the world where one lives in the Virunga conservation area and the other lives in Bwindi national park of southern Uganda. In total, there are 1065 gorilla individuals and research indicates that almost half of the population live in Bwindi forest national park alone. The gorilla population is increasing at a high speed and this is because of high conservation measures put in place such as serious penalties on poaching.

bwindi gorillas

Where can mountain gorillas be found?

Bwindi impenetrable National Park. This is located in southwestern Uganda and it has over 500 gorilla individuals. This park is home to 19 habituated gorilla families, open for trekking each day and they are distributed in four sectors – Nkuringo, Buhoma, Ruhija and Rushaga. This is the only national park where you can do a gorilla habituation experience that allows visitors to spend maximum of 4 hours while in their presence.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Sits in far southwestern Uganda at the border of Rwanda and DR Congo. Being the smallest national park, it homes the few remaining mountain gorilla species with only 2 habituated gorilla families. It is among the 3 national parks that are located in the Virunga Volcanoes.

mgahinga gorillas

Volcanoes National Park. In the Northwestern part of Rwanda, this park covers an area of 160 square kilometers. This park is home to 12 habituated gorilla families and also homes 5 of 8 mountain volcanoes (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Gahinga, Sabyinyo and Muhabura). This means that there are 96 visitors allowed to trek each day, since only 8 trekkers can visit a gorilla group.

Virunga National Park. Situated in the Eastern part of D.R. Congo with 9 habituated gorilla families that are ready to have trekked. This park has 2 active volcanic mountains – Mount. Nyiragongo and Mount. Nyamuragira. This park is amazing and has a significant impact on the economy of D.R. Congo.

Mountain gorillas normally live in groups called families and each is led by a silverback. Size of the group normally depends and ranges from 5 to 30 individuals and the silverback is responsible for taking care of the group, mating all the female gorillas, protecting the group and much more. The group number keeps changing due to death, splinting due to misunderstandings, births and much more.

virunga gorillas

Male gorillas weigh about 120kg to 190kg and the females weigh 70 to 98kg, meaning that the females weigh less than the males. The females give birth to one offspring at a time but in rare cases, they can give birth to twins.

Mountain gorillas are affected by human activities such as poaching, habitat loss, wars, encroachment and also natural disasters and diseases. This has reduced the number of mountain gorilla population though they live for about 35 to 40 years.

Interestingly, humans share 98% of blood DNA with gorillas and this means that humans are better than mountain gorillas in terms of intelligence by 2%. Gorillas can also use tools like sticks, to hunt for food like termites.

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