Strong and powerful limbs give the impression of a fierce animal of which to be frightened.
Tales such as King Kong and others add to that dismay when we see images of the Mountain gorilla, one of the largest living primates.
Yet for all intents and purposes, nothing could be further from the truth.
Shy and gentle with their playmates and children, the mountain gorilla was virtually unknown until the early 1900’s and now is nearly gone.
The mountain gorilla has a large build and bears muscular arms, a huge chest and very broad feet and hands. Among the most hairy of all gorillas it has long black hair which covers it and helps to keep it warm at the highest of elevations.
In only four parks around the world, which are no more than 25 miles apart and are only about 600 square miles of land.
Virunga National Park, Mgahinga, Volcano and Bwindi National parks house the entire population of Mountain Gorillas in the world, which sadly number less than 500 in all areas.
Virunga houses about 350 and has grown as much as 11% due largely to the care of some very capable and caring rangers, nearly a hundred of whom have died protecting the gorillas.
Gorillas as a rule are gentle animals and are not readily found, being shy and less than willing to come out in the open when others are around.
They live in family groups, which can have as few as 4 or as many as 40 gorillas, and usually number about ten. They have one leader, a male who is called a silverback, because of the silver colored hairs that grow on his back when he is older.
He is the leader and protector and will fight to defend his group from either forest animals, or human ones.
Mountain Gorillas don’t breed in great numbers but they have been poached and killed in great numbers. This will make the species even more prone to extinction.
A female gorilla may have as few as 2 children in her lifetime, and rarely more than 6. She will live for about 50 years, if left in peace by man, and won’t have her first baby until she is about ten.
Female Mountain Gorilla with Baby
Every four or five years she will breed after that, and stop breeding when about 30. Females, like humans may only conceive during three or four days each month.
Usually only one baby is born, it weighs around 5 pounds. They are very tiny and are, again, like human babies, weak and unable to fend for themselves however they develop at about two times the rate of a human baby.
At about 4 months they will be able to stand and take steps. Babies are not normally weaned completely from nursing until about age 3 years.
Mountain Gorillas will eat largely an herbal diet, using over 100 different kinds of plants, and take their water primarily from the foods they eat, which are high in moisture.
These gentle creatures are nearly gone, and need all of our assistance to stay with us in the land of the living. There are multiple areas in which you might help. To learn more about the Mountain Gorilla, visit the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Pages
August 1 of 2007, some of the few remaining gorillas in existence were killed in Virunga national park: shot execution style probably by poachers.