Scientific Name: Gorilla beringei beringei
IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
Population estimate: Less than 720
Region: Virunga volcanic mountains, a tri-national forested area found within Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Habitat: The forests where the Mountain Gorilla lives are often cloudy, misty and cold with very dense vegetation at the bottom of the mountains, becoming more sparse at higher elevations (habitat ranges in altitude from 2,200–4,300m/7,200–14,100 ft).
Greatest threats to its continuation: Habitat loss when Mountain Gorillas’ forests are converted to farmland and pasture, local civil unrest, poachers’ snares set for other animals, respiratory and other diseases probably transmitted by humans, and poaching for the Mountain Gorilla infant trade.
Did you know?
Mountain Gorillas are one of our closest relatives, sharing 98.6% of humans’ nuclear DNA. This makes them the closest link to mankind.
Mountain Gorillas are descendants of ancestral monkeys and apes found in Africa and Arabia during the start of the oligocene epoch (34-24 million years ago). The genus Gorilla emerged about 9 million years ago when the group of primates split from their common ancestor with humans and chimps.
The Mountain Gorilla is highly social and lives in relatively stable, cohesive groups held together by long-term bonds between adult males and females.
Gorillas can climb trees, but are usually found on the ground in communities of up to 30 individuals. These troops are relatively stable and cohesive and are organized according to fascinating social structures.
Troops are led by one dominant, older adult male, often called a silverback because of the swath of silver hair that adorns his otherwise dark fur. Male silverback mountain gorillas gain their distinctive silver tinge at about 13 years old, when they reach adulthood.