What You Need to Know about Gorillas

What You Need to Know about Gorillas

Scientific Name:  Gorilla Beringei

Size:                     Up to 6 feet tall

Weight:                300 to 425 pounds

Lifespan:             35–40 years and 50 when in captivity.

Habitat:               Montane forests and swamps.

Diet:                     Herbivorous

Gestation:            8.5 months

Predators:           Leopards, crocodiles, humans


The Rare Mountain gorilla also referred to as Man’s shy cousin is shy and retiring rather than ferocious and treacherous. It is not problematic unless harassed but will valiantly defend its family group if threatened.

The DNA of gorillas is highly similar to that of humans, from 95–99% depending on what is counted, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the bonobo and chimpanzee.

Gorillas are covered with brownish hair on most of their body (except their fingers, palms, face, armpits, and bottoms of their feet).

They have a very large head with a bulging forehead, a crest on top (it is called the sagittal crest, and is larger on male gorillas), tiny ears, and small, dark-brown eyes. Gorillas have no tail. Adult gorillas have 32 teeth, with large molars (flat teeth used for chewing food) and large canines (pointy teeth used for biting), which are especially large in the male gorillas.

Gorillas each have a unique nose print (humans too have unique fingerprints).

Gorillas have senses very similar to humans, including hearing, sight (they seem to be slightly nearsighted and to have color vision), smell, taste, and touch.

Gorillas' hands are very much like ours; they have five fingers, including an opposable thumb. Their feet have five toes, including an opposable big toe. Gorillas can grasp things with both their hands and their feet.

Not many animals have ignited the mind of man as much as the gorilla, the largest of the living primates.

The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift Montane cloud forests of the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in altitude from 2,200–4,300 meters (7,200–14,100 ft). Lowland gorillas live in dense forests and lowland swamps and marshes as low as sea level, with western lowland gorillas living in Central West African countries and eastern lowland gorillas living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near its border with Rwanda. Most gorillas live in inaccessible regions in various dense forests in tropical Africa, and only in the last 30 years have scientists learned details of their life in the wild.

Several volcanoes known as the Virungas run through the western section of the East African Rift Valley, forming part of the border between Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. These magnificent mountains and the nearby Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda are the last haven for the endangered Mountain gorillas.


Note that:   

  • Gorillas seldom show aggression to humans. However in an encounter a person is supposed to stay still and desist from gazing or pointing at the gorilla.
  • Gorillas are vulnerable to a variety of parasites and diseases, especially to pneumonia during the long, cold wet seasons.


Travel tip shared by Wal-Mark Africa Safaris