What makes the mountain gorilla so special

Scientific Name

The Latin name for mountain gorillas is Gorilla beringei beringei.


The mountain gorilla inhabits the tropical rainforests of Central and Eastern Africa; in Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park), and Uganda (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park & Bwindi Impenetrable Forest).


The mountain gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla, that also comprises the Eastern Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri). The latter subspecies is most common, with an estimated population standing at approximately 4000 individuals.


The DNA of gorillas is 98%–99% identical to that of a human, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the bonobo and common chimpanzee species.


Mainly vegetarian: feed on fruits, leaves and shoots. May also eat larvae, snails and ants (their favourite delicacy 🙂 ).


The total population of mountain gorillas worldwide is estimated at 880, half of which belongs to Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Bwindi also happens to be a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site.


  • Incursions by militia (war).
  • Habitat destruction for firewood, farmland and gold-mining. This causes habitat fragmentation.
  • Transmission of diseases from surrounding human populations (human-wildlife disease transmission).
  • Illegal cattle grazing.
  • Illegal bushmeat hunting and poaching (illegal pet trade).

Other Key “Did you KNOW” Facts

  • The name gorilla is derived from the Greek word “Gorillai” meaning hairy women.
  • Only 10 countries worldwide host naturally occurring gorilla populations.
  • Mountain gorillas live in stable family groups that vary from 5 to as many as 30+ individuals.
  • They have a “patriarchal” social unit: each unit is dominated by a mature silverback male.
  • Adult males can weigh up to 120 kg, and eat as much as 25 kg of food per day.
  • Females are relatively smaller in size, and their average weight is +/- 90 kg.
  • Just like humans, the mountain gorilla has individual and unique finger prints.
  • Unlike humans, sex is only used for reproductive purposes, not for leisure (nor pleasure… 🙂 ).
  • Females usually conceive when they are 8-9 years old, and pregnancy lasts 8 and-a-half months.
  • Every evening, mountain gorillas go to sleep in a brand new bed made out of fresh leaves and twigs.


Conservation Status: Critically endangered species. Mountain gorillas are not known to survive outside their natural habitat. In other words, don’t expect to see them at zoos.

Support the Mountain Gorillas:

Friend a Gorilla.

Become a Fan on Facebook.

International Gorilla Conservation Programme.

The Gorilla Organization.

Thank you! 😉


2 Responses to What makes the mountain gorilla so special

  1. dajchae March 20, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    What is so special about silverbacks? Because I’m doing a project on them and it tells me nothing so I was wondering if you could tell me plzz…

    • Michael Theys June 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

      Silverbacks are the largest and most dominant males in a gorilla band. The name “silverback” comes from the colour on their back, that turns silver as they age.

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