Gorillas in Congo are one of the wildlife species that have put Congo on the map being known for the gorilla trekking activity that many travelers fancy across the world. The Democratic Republic of Congo is blessed to be one of the 3 countries with the endangered mountain gorillas species. Gorillas are natives to Africa and divided into 2 Mountain gorillas scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringei are estimated to be about 1,000 left in the world according to ICCN’s report as of 2019. The DRCongo has also the lowland gorilla species (Gorilla beringei graueri) further in the south of the country; Bukavu region. The gorilla species inhabits the forests of the central Sub Saharan Africa. There are a few facts about the mountain gorillas that you could read about. Gorillas in Congo are found in the Virunga Massif that is the Virunga National Park and in Kahuzi Biega National Park that is where they can be visited.
Studies in the past by CNN have estimated about 100,000 lowland gorillas in the western region that is in the DRCongo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria however are facing a high population decline from the threats in the region such as poaching, disease outbreaks like Ebola that spreads so fast and kills immediately. It has been recorded in the past where the Ebola virus has wiped out about 90% of the western lowland gorillas in Congo and Gabon. The mountain gorilla population in Virunga has been stable throughout the years despite the unrest in the region. Congo gorillas are fascinating creatures and are more habituated than most gorillas as it has been evident from past scenarios on how they relate to visitors and the park rangers.
According to WWF (World Wildlife Federation), gorillas are the world’s largest primate. The mountain gorillas are larger than the lowland gorillas whereby the mountain gorillas weigh about 135 to 220kgs while the lowland gorillas weigh less of about 68 to 181kgs.
A group of gorillas is called a band/ a troop and can have about 2 to 50 members with one dominate male silverback gorilla per family and can stay or dominate an area of up to 16 square miles. A silverback gorilla is identified by the grey hair on its back. When a male leaves its family, he will wander around alone for a while until he creates a family of his own as there can only be one dominant male per family.
Gorillas are herbivores so they feed on leaves, tree roots, shoots, tree pulp and can also eat insects like termites and caterpillars as well as small animals and are estimated to eat about 18kgs of food per day.
The gestation period for gorillas is the same as for humans that is 9 months and usually give birth to one in fact and a few cases may birth twins. A fully grown gorilla is considered after the age of 7 years and can have an offspring of its own and can leave the mother’s family to join another.
The estimated life expectancy of gorillas is up to 35 years in the wild and up to 50 years in the zoos or protected areas/ sanctuaries. The mortality rate for individuals below the age of 2 is high whereas for the adults above 5 years is at only 5%. A gorilla that was held captive in the United States was believed to have lived up to 54 years.
Other fascinating facts about gorillas in Congo are that did you know gorillas may not need to drink water as they get the moisture from what they feed on that acts as a drink for the day.
Gorillas in Congo build new nests every night in the forest from the tree branches and leaves. The older gorillas make their nests on the ground while the younger ones tend to nest up in the trees.