Information On Gorillas

 

Gorilla Information

Gorillas; There are three subspecies of gorillas living in different parts of Africa. •Western Lowland - Gorilla gorilla gorilla •Eastern Lowland - Gorilla gorilla graueri •Mountain Gorilla gorilla berengei

The first recorded gorilla sighting (by western civilization) was in the 5th century B.C. by a Roman explorer.

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A gorilla family usually includes one silverback, the strongest male and the undisputed leader, one immature male between 8 and 13 years old, three or four adult females, who stay with the silverback for life, and three to six youngsters under eight years old. Some groups are larger or smaller. Males sometimes travel alone or form bachelor groups.

Mountain gorillas live at altitudes of up to 4100 m. (13,450 ft).

The mountain gorilla's diet consists of leaves, coarse stems, bark, roots, vines, bamboo, wild cherry, thistles and nettles, and when food is scarce, insects, snails and slugs.

Western lowland gorillas eat more fruit than the other subspecies; it is readily available within the lower elevations of their range. They are selective feeders that utilize the fruits, stems, flowers, shoots, bulbs, bark, leaves, and pith of over 200 plant species.

The oldest animal that we know of in the wild died at 35 years of age.

Facial expressions for communicating include a play face, lip-tucking (tension), protruding tongue (uncertainty or concentration), and yawning (stress) (Dixson, 1981; Hoff and Maple, 1982).

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Fewer than 650 mountain gorillas and 40,000 lowland gorillas are left in the world. Gentle and intelligent creatures, gorillas are more closely-related to humankind than many might expect.

Gorillas are mainly ground-living, but where trees are strong enough and fruiting, whole groups can be seen in them. Chimpanzee nests are similar to the gorillas, but the chimpanzees nest much higher in the trees.

Gorillas live about 35 years in the wild and more than 50 years in a zoological environment. The mortality rate for immature gorillas under six years of age is over 40% and the risks are highest during the first year. Fighting silverbacks, predation, injury, and disease are all serious threats to youngsters that lessen as the apes reach maturity. However, the risks continue throughout life.

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Gorillas produce more than 15 recognized vocalizations. Some sounds are used mainly for group communication because gorillas are nearly invisible to each other while feeding and traveling in the vegetation. Gorillas have never been observed hunting or feeding on any animals other than invertebrates such as termites and ants.Deep belches are common during feeding and suggest contentment. Pig-like grunts are used to establish right-of-way during foraging and to settle squabbles. Male gorillas roar and growl during aggressive behaviors. Silverbacks vocalize the most.

Gorillas seldom drink water; their succulent food items provide enough dietary water.

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All great apes exhibit a capacity for complex learning. In behavioral research facilities, some gorillas have learned sign language and formed very simple sentences to communicate with people. Chimpanzees have been observed creating tools from their environment and then using them to accomplish certain tasks such as probing for termites with sticks or gathering water for drinking with crumpled leaves. Young chimps learn these behaviors from watching other chimps. Gorillas have not been observed making or using tools in the wild.

The Future of the Gorilla

Across Africa, eco-tourism and gorilla-viewing tourism continue to be the most effective method of "sustainable use" being developed by conservation programs. In Gabon, where visitors are unlikely to see gorillas, the success of eco-tourism played a role in the official creation of a totally protected core area within Lopé Reserve. Despite the advantages of tourism for conservation, we are all aware of its drawbacks and the need for constant monitoring of its effects. The time is ripe for a thorough assessment across Africa, of tourism's impact on gorillas and their forest habitat. There need to be more sites like Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans, where some gorilla groups are visited only by researchers, and can act as a baseline against which to judge the influences of tourism.


 


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