There are about a thousand mountain gorillas remaining on Earth, and about half live in the forests of the Virunga mountains in central Africa.
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN as of 2018.
There are about a thousand mountain gorillas remaining on Earth, and about half live in the forests of the Virunga mountains in central Africa. Mountain gorillas are a subspecies of eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei).
As their name implies, mountain gorillas live in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. They have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often drop below freezing.
The very rare and endangered Mountain Gorilla can be found in the heavily forested and mountainous areas of Central Africa; chiefly the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. They live in the volcanic mountains of Central Africa in protected national parks. In south-west Uganda they can be found in the Bwindi National Park, in Rwanda in the Volcanoes National Park and in the DRC they live in Virunga National Park.
The mountain gorilla inhabits the forested slopes of the volcanoes in Central Africa which range in altitude from 7,200–14,100 ft.
The volcanoes have created a fantastically lush vegetation which is very dense at the bottom of the mountains, becoming more sparse at higher elevations. It provides the perfect environment for these elusive creatures. The cloud forests where the mountain gorilla lives are often cloudy, misty and cold so they have evolved with thicker fur than their lowland cousins and are classed as a separate sub-species.
The mountain Gorilla is one of the world’s most endangered species. But they are making a slow but fragile return from the brink of extinction.
Since 2010, their population has increased by a quarter to just over 1,000.
• Virunga National Park, established in 1925, is Africa’s first national park and home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.
• The two forest patches in which mountain gorillas are found effectively divide the 655 into two distinct populations. One population, in Uganda, is found in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP), covering about 330 km2. The other population inhabits the Virunga Volcano Region, which sits across the international borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DRC.
• The Virunga Volcano Region (VVR) is ecologically homogenous, but separated into three national parks, in three countries: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcano National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, covering an approximate total area of 300 km2.
• The mountain gorillas live in stable family groups with a dominant silverback male, his harem of females, and their offspring.
• The silverback male is usually the father of the offspring, although the younger males will take an opportunity to mate with a female if the silverback is not looking.
• They are not ferocious creatures. On the contrary, they’re very peaceful. They only become aggressive if one of their group is perceived to be threatened.
• American zoologist Dian Fossey brought worldwide focus on the plight of gorillas during her close and extensive study of gorilla groups in the mountain forests of Rwanda over a period of 18 years. It is believed her opposition to their poaching led to her still unsolved murder in 1985.