Endangered Wildlife: Meet The African Mountain Gorilla

Get up close and personal with the largest of all apes, the mountain gorilla.

The Mountain Gorilla, huge fierce beast. This native of the African forest is a stranger to most of us. Let's get up close & personal with greatest of the apes.

The Mountain Gorilla is found in the rainforests of central Africa, around the borders of Rwanda, The Democratic Republic Of Congo (DRC), and Uganda. There are only about 620 Mountain Gorillas left in the world, which all live in 2 national parks.

Mountain Gorillas prefer a cool cloudy climate, such as their rainforest home. This environment best suits their eating habits . Mountain Gorillas are herbivorous, so the berries, bamboo, leaves & other vegetation of central Africa are perfect for them. In fact, they enjoy their food so much that, their breakfast can take up to 3 hours!

What does their day actually consist of? Well Mountain Gorillas are early risers, waking at around 6am, but go back to sleep 12 hours later, at 6pm.

Breakfast takes them up to about 9am. From around 9 am-2 pm they lounge around, allowing their food to digest. After that they search for food again. Then they go to sleep.

Now let's focus on a question that's been asked time and time again. Why are there so few Mountain Gorillas?

These animals have potential for population growth, just like humans. Unfortunately the Mountain Gorilla population is not expanding as one would expect. The average life span is 50 years. Sadly though, many will die in their first year. Females reach full maturity at 10-12 years of age, while males reach full maturity at 13-15 years of age. Unfortunately, only around half of those survive their first year, will reach full maturity. In addition to natural causes, Mountain Gorillas are victims of habitat loss and poaching.

What about the notorious chest-beating display that we all associate with Mountain Gorillas? If you're lucky ever to see this, you'll really get a show! It starts with a series of hoots, following which the Mountain Gorilla, hooting at a fast tempo, raises hi hind legs, then throws some plants into the air, kicks up one leg and at the climax beats his massive chest with cupped hands several times. Then he runs sideways, tearing at the vegetation, finally thumping the ground with heavy palms. The sounds have been recorded, and are one of the loudest sounds in the whole animal kingdom!

They are one of the most magnificent creatures in the world.

The Mountain Gorilla is a magnificent creature, yet few of us will ever see one in the flesh. Recent political upheaval in west Africa has made it increasingly dangerous to travel to that part of the world. That's a pity, because the Mountain Gorilla is truly one of a kind.

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