Gorillas in East Africa

By: Naigaga Sydah

The Endangered Giants and Most Searched primates in East AFrica.

Gorillas are threatened primate species in the world with the remaining living in Africa and in countries Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Known to be the largest living primates on Earth, Gorillas are of three kinds; 1) Eastern Lowland Gorillas, which reside in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 2) Western Lowland Gorillas which live only in West Africa and: 3) Mountain Gorillas, which are only found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Listed as one of the top 10 threatened / endangered species, there are only 655 species remaining. There are approximately 355 gorillas in the Volcano and Virunga Mountains of Rwanda and Congo and another separate group of 300 in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are no Mountain Gorillas living outside of their native mountain forest home. Gorillas are protected by international law. Capturing or killing gorillas and other endangered species is illegal.

Unlike chimps Gorilla live in groups / families without territorial boundaries but with family's range from 2 to 15 square miles. The females decide who they are going to allow into their family. If a gorilla wants to join another group and the females do not want her in, they will scratch her in the face and keep her out. If a female wants to leave a group to find a male she likes better, but the other females like her very much, they will grab her by the legs and not allow her to leave.

Female gorillas weigh approximately 350 pounds and adult male gorillas can weigh approximately 700 pounds. Adult gorillas can be seven feet tall with an arm span of 8 feet.

Gorillas feed on 58 different types of plant species, including stems, roots, leaves, flowers, thistles, ferns, tree wood and bamboo shoots. Gallium vines, fruits and celery are their favorite foods. Gorillas have much larger teeth in the back of their mouth than humans do so that they can grind foliage, bark and bamboo.

Gorillas like human are curious, they can be bored, bold, annoyed, have pleasure, excited, afraid, can worry, show affection, be thoughtful and they can be hostile. Gorillas like to study people to see if they are friendly.

Gorillas communicate by stomach rumbling which means they are contented, a pig grunt of harsh staccato grunts used when disciplining or complaining. A roar or scream is given when a gorilla is threatened. A loud hoot or roar is given when silverbacks are interacting. This is done by chest beating and thrashing of trees. When gorillas are afraid they send out a powerful odor from their glands.

Having endured decades of civil war in Central and East Africa, gorillas are confronted by the devastating consequences of increased habitat loss, poaching for the bush meat trade and the spread of dangerous diseases like Ebola. "These animals are Threatened" therefore make a tour to these countries to have a look at the few remaining primate giants before they are lost. Spend some time with them, they are awe-inspiring.

Tracking Gorillas

Following breakfast you transfer to the park headquarters for the briefing before you set off at 9:00 am through the tracks to search for the humble giants. You will have to carry packed lunch because it's hard to determine how long it will take you to meet these great apes. However the time ranges between 2-9 hours depending on the movement of the giant primates. There movement is determined by availability of food. The activity is tiresome, it involves walking along steep hilly tracks however encountering these great relatives of man erases all the poor memories/ hardships you went through in trying to find them. They are awesome!

On encountering the Gorillas you will spend a bout an hour with them watching them play, feed and take care of their young ones, just like humans. Oh my they are astounding! Later after one hour you will trek back to your lodge. End of tracking.

Tracking can be done more than once, its only the money that might limit you as the Gorilla tracking permit costs USD 500. Though worth the lifetime experience.

There are plenty of tour operators that can help in organizing your tour to Uganda , Rwanda to Track Gorillas. You can also track both in Uganda and Rwanda just for the different experience in the different altitude. In the mean time Congo is not realalble as the conditions there are not stable.

Below are some of the few tour operators.

Access Africa Safaris

Abacus African vacations,

Adventure trails Limted

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