Gorillas are the world’s most endangered apes and are only found in 10 countries within Western, Central and Eastern Africa with the mountain gorillas only found in East Africa in the countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. There are approximately 50,000 gorillas left in the African wild and about 820 are Mountain Gorillas only.
These Apes which derive their name from a Greek word “Gorillai” meaning “Hairy women” are the closest relatives to man having a DNA that is 98-99% identical and having their own individual finger prints.
There are two major groups of gorillas these are: the Western gorilla with two subspecies (western lowland and cross river) which are found in West and Central Africa, and the Eastern gorilla species comprising of the mountain gorillas and Eastern-lowland gorillas and these are in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. These apes follow a strict order as that of humans with the silverback as the head, protector and control movements of the family. The adult silverback can weigh up to 120kg and eat up to 25kgs a day while a female can weigh up to 90kg.
Gorillas have a slow reproduction rate where males begin to breed at the age of 12 or 15 years and females give their first birth at the age of 10 and continue to give birth in an interval of three or four years. Most female gorillas produce a single young one each time they give birth and the young ones grow and develop faster as twice as humans. At the age of 3 months, the infant Gorilla can sit upright and stand with support. The female breast feeds its infant up to about 3 and half years when it becomes independent and during the lactation period, the females cannot conceive since gorillas don’t mate for pleasure but for reproduction purposes only. Unlike their stronger parents the newborns are very tiny weighing 4 pounds and can only be able to cling on their mothers’ fur. However, the infants continue to ride on their mothers’ backs from four months to their first two years.
They are strictly vegetarians and eat a lot of food in order to support their heavy weight and their favorite foods are; bamboo, thistles, bedstraw, fruits, wild celery, roots and these foods have a lot of moisture making the gorillas need no water.