Mountain Gorilla (Creative Commons)
Mountain Gorilla (Creative Commons)

"The mountain gorilla has a robust build with long, muscular arms, a massive chest, and broad hands and feet. It is the hairiest race of gorillas; its long, thick black hair insulates it from the cold of living at high elevations." (2)



Size: Males: Up to 6 feet tall, standing. Females: Up to 5 feet tall.
Weight: Males: 350 pounds. Females: 215 pounds.
Lifespan: 40-50 years
Habitat: Dense forest, rain forest
Diet: Herbivorous (vegetarian)
Predators: Predominantly humans. Occasionally leopards.
(2)
History
- 1902 Robert Von Beringe, German captain, is the first European to observe the mountain gorillas on the Sabinyo volcano which are named Gorilla gorilla beringei by Matschie in 1903.
-1967 Dian Fossey, American zoologist, begins the first long-term study on wild gorillas. It succeeds in habituating the gorillas to human presence.
-1979 The Mountain Gorilla Project is approved following a convention between the Rwandan government and a consortium formed by several private organizations interested in nature conservation (AWF, WWF, FFPS...) Three priority programs are
- Protection of the fauna and flora of the park
- Creation of " gorilla tourism"
- Teaching the local people.
- 1989 The last census of the mountain gorilla population. (approximately 324 in Virunga and 320 in the forest of Bwindi)
- 1994 Beginning of the civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi. 18 to 22 mountain gorillas were killed during fighting in Rwanda.

Niche

"Mountain gorillas are folivores, feeding on leaves, stems, pith, and shoots of terrestrial herbaceous
Baby_Gorilla.jpg
Baby Mountain Gorilla (Creative Commons
vegetation. They preferentially choose high quality, high protein, low fiber, and low tannin foods from a small number of species and incorporate little fruit into their diets (McNeilage 2001). Where bamboo is available, it is usually favored and they spend much time digging to unearth tender shoots. Because they depend on a readily available, easily accessed food source, there is little competition for resources between groups, their home ranges are small, typically between three and 15 km² (1.16 and 5.79 mi²), and they move only 500 m (.311 mi) or less within a typical day (McNeilage 2001; Robbins & McNeilage 2003). Though they only utilize a few species in each habitat, mountain gorillas show wide dietary flexibility which enables them to occupy a wide variety of habitats within their range (McNeilag
e 2001)." (3)



Pressures that have led to endangerment

- "Gorillas are threatened by habitat loss due to increasing human populations, poaching for the bushmeat trade and diseases like ebola. Species that live in higher elevations, like mountain gorillas, are also affected by climate change,which has the potential to impact gorillas directly by altering their habitat, and indirectly by affecting agriculture yields in nearby communities, which in turn puts more pressure on remaining habitat." (1)


-"Mountain gorillas have a slow rate of reproduction. This slow reproduction makes this species even more threatened. In a 40-50 year lifetime, a female might have only 2-6 living offspring. Females give birth for the first time at about age 10 and will have offspring every four years or more. A male reaches sexual maturity between 10 and 12 years. Able to conceive for only about three days each month, the female produces a single young and in rare cases twins." (2)

-"The primary threat to mountain gorillas comes from forest clearance and degradation, as the region's growing human population struggles to eke out a living. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), in collaboration with Fauna and Flora International and World Wide Fund for Nature, established the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) to safeguard the last remaining mountain gorillas.
IGCP works on three levels: Strengthening gorilla habitat protection through regional collaboration, researching the dynamic between the human population and the natural habitat/wildlife, and working with local communities to develop livelihood strategies that are complementary to conservation objectives.
This coalition has been a tremendous success, but support is still greatly needed. The most endangered of the gorilla subspecies, only about 720 mountain gorillas remain in the wild." (2)


Video- Ways to Save Mountain Gorillas


Citations:

1. "Gorilla." Defenders of Wildlife . N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.
<http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/gorilla.php#>.

2. "Mountain Gorilla." African Wildlife Foundation . N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.
<http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/mountaingorilla>.
3. "Gorilla." Primate Info Net . N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.
<http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/gorilla>.