Planning for a primate safari holiday & staying in nice accommodations allover the world, Africa ranks high as no 1 primate safari destination as a number of apes are found in the wilderness of African Forests with great range of Apes and Wildlife , Plan for gorilla trekking , visit the mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas, Western Lowland gorillas, Cross river gorillas.
MOUNTAIN GORILLAS (Gorilla beringei beringei)
Where they live
Mountain gorillas (eastern gorillas) are found in two isolated groups. One group is the Virunga region which marks a border of three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, they are in Mgahinga national park, Rwanda in Volcanoes national park and Virunga national park in DR Congo. The second group is found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which is located in the south western part of Uganda. They stay in altitudes ranging between 8000 and 1000 feet. The world population of mountain gorillas has increased to 880 individuals according to the census data released by the Uganda wildlife authority in 2010.
A mountain gorilla has thick and longer fur and shorter arms than other gorilla species which enables them to live in high altitude areas. Mountain gorillas have long silky black coats with hairless face, palms, soles and chest. They are remarkably strong with a broad chest and shoulders. They are also bigger than other species. Males weigh around 195kg and females weigh around 100kg. Females have a gestation period of 8.5months.
Mountain gorillas live in groups of up to 30 individuals. The group, or troop, is led by a single alpha male, an older silverback. These males are called silverbacks because of the silver stripe they develop on their backs when they mature. The oldest males of the group are at least 12 years old. These troops also include several younger males, adult and juvenile females, and infants.
In addition to providing protection to group members, silverbacks maintain order and decide all activities within their troop. They schedule feeding trips, resting time, and travel. They also father the majority of the young in the group.
Mountain gorillas wake up early at sunrise and begin looking for food for most of the morning hours. In contrast to other primates, gorillas live mainly on the ground and do not prey more than a kilometer per day with in their territory of about 20 kilometers. The afternoons are mainly spent resting and playing. Before dusk, the great apes start constructing nests where they will spend their night. Every gorilla has its own nest except for the infants which sleep next to their moms. The nests are either built on the ground or trees.
The biggest threats to these great apes come from deforestation and the growing human population around the area, diseases, and wars and civil unrest. Gorillas are not commonly poached but they always fall in traps meant for other animals.
Mountain gorillas are omnivores. They are able to survive on vegetation such as leaves, stems, roots, vines, tress, herds, but such vegetation has low nutritional levels. So they consume a lot of it to get more nutrients. They also eat some insects.
An adult male gorilla can consume more than 18kgs per day. They rarely drink water because most of the foods they eat contain water in them.
Gorillas are so selective I what they eat, they usually eat part of the vegetation. They may only eat the leaves, stalk or roots of a particular plant.
All the Destinations of Uganda, Rwanda and Dr congo have habituated mountain gorillas to the greatest extent compared to other gorillas . Most reliable gorilla Trekking safari experience will be the mountain gorillas in the wilderness of African Virunga Mountains & Famous Bwindi.
WESTERN LOWLAND GORILLAS. (gorilla gorilla gorilla)
Lowland gorillas have short, thin, gray-black to brown-black hair covers the entire hair except for the face and have a more brownish coloration. Infants below four years have a white tuft on their rumps which helps other gorillas to recognize it as an infant. Mature males have a saddle of white hair on their back and they are called ‘silverbacks’. The males are much larger than the females. Adult males weigh from 300 to 500 pounds and stand up to 6 feet tall. Adult females weigh between 150 to 200 pounds.
They can live for 50 or more years in the wild and in captivity though such a long life span is rare.
About their numbers, there is no accurate estimate of how many are left in the worlds because they inhabit some of Africa’s densest and most remote rain forests. However the total population is estimated to be 100,000 individuals.
Gorillas live in troops ranging from 2 to 30 individuals. But for the western lowland gorillas, data seems to indicate that they live in much smaller troops with an average of 5 members. Groups are always composed of a silverback male, one or more black back males, and several females with their infants, and juvenile offspring. Mature off springs leave their groups to find mates.
Where do they live
The western lowland gorilla is found inhabiting the tropical jungles and forests of Western and Central Africa, along with lowland swamps and secondary forests.
The western lowland gorillas live in heavy rainforests and it is difficult for scientists to accurately estimate how many still survive. They live in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Angola.
EASTERN LOWLAND GORILLAS (grauer’s gorilla)
The eastern lowland gorilla occurs in the lowland and Albertine Rift montane forests of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
These are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The species live in the tropical forests of eastern DRC and most notably Kahuzi Biega National Park and maiko national park.
The eastern lowland gorilla is the largest of the gorilla subspecies. This impressive animal is identified by a stocky body, large hands and a short muzzle. Unusually, the gorilla’s thumbs are larger than the fingers. The face, ears, hands, and feet are bare, and the chest in old males lacks hair. Comparing it with the western subspecies, mountain gorillas, the eastern gorilla has shorter hair, teeth and longer arms. Eastern Lowland gorillas have a broad chest and shoulders, a large head and a hairy shiny black face. A full-grown male can weigh up to 220kg, and can be distinguished from the Mountain gorilla by its slightly narrower body and face and its noticeably rounder nostrils.
They are very sociable and very peaceful, living in groups of two to over 30. A group always consists of one silverback, several females and their offspring. Silverbacks are stronger and each group has one dominant leader. The males protect their group from danger. Young silverback males will slowly begin to leave their group when they reach maturity, and will then attempt to attract females to form their own group.
They are omnivores with About 67% of the diet is fruit, 17% leaves, seeds, and stems, 3% is termites and caterpillars. They eat atleast 104 plant species. Male adults can eat upto 20kg a day.
CROSS RIVER GORILLA (Gorilla gorilla diehli)
Where they live
The Cross River gorilla live a dense forest habitat that is uninhabited by humans. Due to the Cross River gorilla’s body size they require large and diverse areas of the forest to meet their habitat requirements. Forests that are inhabited by the Cross River gorilla vary in altitude from approximately 100 to 2,037 meters (328 to 6,683 ft) above sea level.
If comparing the Cross River gorilla to western gorillas, they have smaller palates, smaller cranial vaults, and shorter skulls. The Cross River gorilla is not known to differ much in terms of body size or limb and bone length from western gorillas. However, measurements taken from a male suggest that they have shorter hands and feet and have a larger opposability index than western gorillas.
The cross river gorilla’s diet consists largely of fruit, herbaceous vegetation, liana, and tree bark. Their diet usually consists of fruit, but in fruit scarce months, (August–September, November–January) their diet is primarily made up of terrestrial herbs, and the bark and leaves of climber and trees. Many of the Cross River gorilla food sources are very seasonal and thus their diets are filled with very dense, nutritious vegetation that is usually found near their nesting sites.
They live in small groups of 4-7 individuals with a few males and a few female members. They construct their nests depending on various aspects like the habitat, the climate, source of food and risk of attack. The season determines whether the nest will be built on the ground or on trees. They mostly build the nest on the ground from April to November and from November on wards they are likely to construct them on trees.