Facts About Silverback Gorillas : Silverback Gorillas are known as the largest primates on earth. After bonobos and chimpanzees- gorillas are the closest relatives to humans with DNA of about 98% similar to that of humans.

Gorillas are only found in the tropical rainforest of East, Central and Western Africa. They are divided into two main species that is; the eastern gorillas and the western gorilla. The western gorilla is divided into two subspecies; the western lowland gorilla and the cross river gorilla. The Eastern gorillas include the Mountain gorilla and the Eastern Lowland Gorilla ‘’also known as Grauers Gorilla’’. Of all the gorilla subspecies, the Eastern Lowland gorillas is the largest –followed by the mountain gorilla. Yet, Cross River gorilla is the smallest of the lot.

Currently the western lowland is over 300,000 individuals, the Eastern lowland gorillas are more than 5000, mountain gorillas are over 1065 individuals and less than 400 Cross river gorillas. All subspecies of gorillas are considered critically endangered by the ‘’IUCN’’ International Union for Conservation of Nature. This is because their numbers have reduced in the last century due to; human diseases, habitat destruction and poaching for meat are the greatest threat to wild gorilla survival.

Silverback Gorilla – Size, Height and Life span

Gorillas live in groups led by a silverback. Regarding to silverback doesn’t refer to a particular species of gorillas but a mature male gorilla. Silverback gorillas are well known by a grayish white hairline around the back and shoulders. Amale gorilla that is too old to be a juvenile but too young to be a silverback is referred to as a ‘’Blackbuck’’.

Comparing a female gorilla to a silverback gorilla;

A silverback gorilla has a larger head, body and can weigh up to 270 kilograms.

A male gorilla becomes an adult at about 8 years of age. It around that age it leaves the group and joins other males. At this point – they are still referred to as Blackbucks. They only become fully grown at about 12 to 13 years of age, that they become silverbacks. At around this time the hair down their back and cross the shoulders develops whitish or greyish in color.

Amature and lone black back or silverback will live close distinct group and attempt to dethrone the dominant silverback as soon as he is strong enough. If he fails to dethrone a leader of isolated gorilla group, he will attempt to steal females from that family to form his own.

Note; Some of males never leave their original group on reaching maturity. They will remain loyal to the dominant silverback and help protect the group from intruders. The arrangement is more common with the great mountain gorillas and rare with Western lowland gorillas.

While it is possible to find several silverback gorillas in a family, there is only one dominant silverback. The dominant silverback is the leader of the family and has absolute authority. He determines when to eat, rest and it entitled to mate with all the females in the group. Note; Gorilla mating is often initiated by the female gorilla upon reaching maturity. The dominant silverback controls a family containing between 5 to 35 individuals.

A gorilla family contains number of females, adolescent/juveniles, infants and some adult males. Females leave the family –group upon reaching maturity to avoid mating with the father ‘’silverback’’.

Strength of a Silverback Gorilla?

A fully grown silverback gorilla is about twice the weight of an adult man. It multiplies 9 times stronger than an adult male.

Their body weight and strength is all because of robusticity meaning a higher ratio of muscle mass. Question- would a strong adult male have a change against a silverback in a duel? While on fight has been recorded between an adult male and a silverback gorilla, is obvious who the winner will be. Sadly, an angry silverback would beat the man to a pulp.

Facts About Silverback Gorillas
Silverback gorilla

Are silverback gorillas aggressive?

The dominant silverback gorilla leads by charisma and example. They are always peaceful and rarely uses force. A silverback gorilla only becomes an aggressive when it encounters a fight or if he wants to assert dominance.

Intruders can mean males from other groups, stubborn members of his group, animals like leopards or humans visiting a gorillas group that is not habituated. When a silverback recognizes a threat from another group, he will first attempt to warn off the intruder. A silverback gorilla does this by standing up while drumming up his chest. He is always defending his group especially infants to the death. This is a great reason why poachers and pet traders target the silverback if they wish to capture an infant.

What Do Silverback Gorilla Eat?

Silverback gorillas in general eat mainly plants –consists of fruits, shoots and leaves. They also feed on termites, ants and certain insects.

Mountain gorilla silverback diet is slightly different. They consist of mainly stems and leaves. They also love feeding on fungi, flowers and bark. Although the seasons ‘’rainy or dry determines which kind of food is prevalent.

Generally, mountain gorillas live a life of plenty since they are exposed to a greater variety of vegetation than the other gorilla sub-species.

Where to See Silverback Gorillas

Where are silverback gorilla found? Silverback gorillas are found in the dense forests of East, Central and Western Africa.

The Lowland gorillas can be watched in forests and swamps along the Congo river basin. Mountain gorillas are commonly found in the wider Virunga conservations region and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Those who wish to see wild eastern lowland gorillas – visit Maiko National Park, Kahuzi –Biega National Park, Tayna Gorilla Reserve, the Itombwe Massif and the Usala forest.

Western lowland gorillas are widespread in different countries; Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea and Republic of the Congo.

Mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Uganda and Mgahinga National Park in Uganda, the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Congo.

How to See Silverback Gorilla in Africa?

Eventually, one to see silverback gorillas in the wild, you have to prepare a visit to Africa and they can be viewed in few different places of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, Virunga National Park and Kahuzi –Biega National Park.

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