Categorized among the most endangered apes on the entire planet, mountain gorillas are very unique primates. They prefer living along the slopes of the forested mountains and today they can only be found in three countries that are Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic Of Congo. Being primates, mountain gorillas are among the wild animals that are closely related to human beings with about 98% of their DNA similar to humans. With that similarity in DNA, mountain gorillas have a lot in common with their human close relatives much as they stay in the wild. The female mountain gorilla for example is very protective of her young one and usually cuddles and plays around with it all the time, which is a very similar characteristic to the humans.
Mountain gorillas also live in extended families/groups of their close relatives that range from 10 to 30 and sometimes more. Each of the mountain gorilla family/group is controlled by the strongest male mountain gorilla, which is also known as a silverback. The silverback is usually in charge of the safety and well being of the subordinate gorillas in his group and is always ready to protect them from any intrusion which it does by fighting or leading the family to a place where it thinks they are safe and this could be on the higher and steep slopes of the forested mountains.
Mountain gorillas are vegetarians and therefore predominantly feed on plant leaves. Living in a tropical rainforest with plenty of edible leaves, mountain gorillas don’t suffer a lot to look for food. Sometimes when they get a fresh feeding ground, they just sit down and start grabbing the edible leaves that are in reach of their arms as they crouch. The enormous feeding of a mountain gorilla makes it gain weight and stronger and it’s not surprising that mountain gorillas are the strongest and the biggest of the apes.
Mountain gorillas have no permanent resting places as they usually move from one place to another and build resting nests every day in new places where they expect to spend the night.
The mountain gorillas in Africa that are tracked by tourists are habituated (used to tourists presence) and therefore not charge or act aggressively on the sight of the tourists. They instead continue with their routine as the tourists look on while taking photographs. The silverback however being the head of the family is always on guard and acts aggressively in case a tourist attempts to touch or get too close to any of its subordinates. For that reason, tourists are advised to keep a reasonable distance of at least 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas.
Tourists who are sick or with a cold are not allowed to go for a gorilla safari because they could easily pass on the disease to the gorillas. Only 8 tourists are allowed to track one mountain gorilla family a day and they only spend an hour in their presence.
While in the forest, tourists are advised to stay in their tracking groups so that they don’t stray away. Tourists are also advised to minimize noise especially while in the presence of the mountain gorillas as this could distract and also annoy the gorillas.
Adventurous tourists seeking to encounter the gorillas in their natural habitats can decide to track in Rwanda, Uganda, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. The mountain gorilla permits for Rwanda are sold at $750, for Uganda at $600, and for the Democratic Republic of Congo at $500. Mountain gorillas can be tracked at any time of the year.