Mountain gorilla is a sub species of Eastern species of gorillas inhabiting the Virunga range volcanoes and Bwindi impenetrable forest national park in south western Uganda. Mountain gorillas have a low reproduction rate with females giving birth after every 4 years and males start breeding between 12 to 15 years. Females have only 1-3 fertile days in a month and gestation period is 8 and half months.
Baby mountain gorillas are vulnerable at birth just like human babies weighing about 4 pounds but grow about twice faster than human babies. The babies depend on breast milk from birth and weaning from their mothers up to about 4 years when they become independent.
Gorillas are generally shy and gentle animals unless harassed though it will first warn the opponent by thunderously thumping the ground, throwing vegetation, screaming and so much more. In most cases a gorilla will eventually attack if the opponent doesn’t back off.
Mountain gorilla population
There are two populations of mountain gorillas; one population is found in Virunga national park, Mgahinga gorilla national and Volcanoes national park while the other population is found in Bwindi national park.
Some primatologists speculate that the population of Bwindi impenetrable national park must be another sub species of gorillas. Conservation efforts triggered by the famous American primatologist Deane Fossy have led to the increase of mountain gorilla population over the years.
Mountain gorilla population census is based on traditional census methods using dung samples collected in night nests, study shows that gorilla groups habituated for research and eco tourism have higher growth rates than un habituated gorillas and this could be because habituated mountain gorillas are always monitored and receive vetenary treatment in case they need any medical attention.
The lowest population census of mountain gorillas was in 1981 with only 254 gorillas in the wilderness and In 1997, the estimated number of gorillas in Virunga region was only 320 individuals. The 2006 census in Bwindi national park estimated 340 gorillas.
In the year 2010, the Virunga national park announced that gorilla numbers had increased by 26.3 percent in the last seven years with an average of 3.7 percent per year, the census of that year showed an estimated number of 480 mountain gorillas in the region compared to 2003 census with an estimated number of 380 gorillas in the wilderness.
Although there is population growth of mountain gorillas, they still remain on IUCN red list as an endangered species. The main threat to mountain gorilla population is poaching done by humans, habitat loss, diseases then war and unrest.
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