Vacation Holiday To See The Endangered Gorillas

Gorillas are threatened primate species in the world with the remaining living in Africa and in countries Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Known to be the largest living primates on Earth, Gorillas are of three kinds; 1) Eastern Lowland Gorillas, which reside in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; 2) Western Lowland Gorillas which live only in West Africa and: 3) Mountain Gorillas, which are only found in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Listed as one of the top 10 threatened / endangered species, there are only 655 species remaining. There are approximately 355 gorillas in the Volcano and Virunga Mountains of Rwanda and Congo and another separate group of 300 in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. There are no Mountain Gorillas living outside of their native mountain forest home. Gorillas are protected by international law. Capturing or killing gorillas and other endangered species is illegal.

Unlike chimps, Gorillas live in groups / families without territorial boundaries but with family’s range from 2 to 15 square miles. The females decide who they are going to allow into their family. If a gorilla wants to join another group and the females do not want her in, they will scratch her in the face and keep her out. If a female wants to leave a group to find a male she likes better, but the other females like her very much, they will grab her by the legs and not allow her to leave.

Female gorillas weigh approximately 350 pounds and adult male gorillas can weigh approximately 700 pounds. Adult gorillas can be seven feet tall with an arm span of 8 feet.

Gorillas feed on 58 different types of plant species, including stems, roots, leaves, flowers, thistles, ferns, tree wood and bamboo shoots. Gallium vines, fruits and celery are their favorite foods. Gorillas have much larger teeth in the back of their mouth than humans do so that they can grind foliage, bark and bamboo.

Gorillas like human are curious, they can be bored, bold, annoyed, have pleasure, excited, afraid, can worry, show affection, be thoughtful and they can be hostile. Gorillas like to study people to see if they are friendly.

Gorillas communicate by stomach rumbling which means they are contented, a pig grunt of harsh staccato grunts used when disciplining or complaining. A roar or scream is given when a gorilla is threatened. A loud hoot or roar is given when silverbacks are interacting. This is done by chest beating and thrashing of trees. When gorillas are afraid they send out a powerful odor from their glands.

Having endured decades of civil war in Central and East Africa, gorillas are confronted by the devastating consequences of increased habitat loss, poaching for the bush meat trade and the spread of dangerous diseases like Ebola. “These animals are Threatened” therefore make a tour to these countries to have a look at the few remaining primate giants before they are lost. Spend some time with them, they are awe-inspiring.

Gorilla tracking the Activity.

On this day, in the morning you wake up to a breakfast and then transfer to the park headquarters for the briefing before you set off at 9:00 am through the tracks to search for the humble giants. You have to go with packed lunch as the time taken to before meeting the great apes is un predictable. However the time ranges between 2-9 hours depending on the movement of the giant primates (Gorillas). The activity is tiresome, it involves walking along steep hilly tracks however encountering these great relatives of man erases all the poor memories/ hardships you went through in trying to find them. They are awesome!

Safaris to see the gorillas of Africa can be arranged by Sydah Naigaga of Access Africa Safaris.

Gorillas Are Very Powerful Apes

The Gorilla

The Gorillas, Gorilla gorilla, and Gorilla beringei, are the biggest primates. A male Gorilla normally weighs up to about 200 Kg (440lb) although in captivity obese Gorillas have weighed more than this. A female weighs about half as much.

Diet

Gorillas are mainly herbivorous, eating leaves, shoots and fruit. They are better able to digest fibrous foods than Humans and other apes. Although these are their main foods, they also eat insects. This is both incidental to eating their plant food, and deliberate. They will eat Termites in the same way as Chimpanzees and Bonobos do.

Aggression

Gorillas are not naturally aggressive to Human Beings although they will certainly defend themselves from any perceived attack.

Relatives

The nearest relatives of the two Gorilla Species are Humans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos. The distance of these three species from Gorillas is equal, despite appearances to the contrary.

Social Organisation

Gorillas live in groups. The groups are led by a mature male. These males are referred to as Silverbacks because when they reach full maturity at about 12 years old they get a silver patch of hair on their backs.

The Silverback leads the group and provides it with protection. Mature male Gorillas are powerful animals. Although they are not meat eaters, they are armed with large canine teeth. They are also exceedingly strong. Even a lion would be sensible to think twice about attacking a troop of Gorillas.
In theory, the Silverback also has the exclusive right to mate with the females. This does not mean that a younger male never gets a chance, but he would need to do it warily.

Younger, sexually mature, males are referred to as Blackbacks and will help the Silverback to defend the troop.

Leaving the Group

When they are mature at about 11 or 12 the young males will normally leave the troop and go off either by themselves, or in a group of other young males for a few years until they are able to attract some females. If a Silverback leader dies, the females and young Gorillas will go off and try to find another mature male.

Violence

Gorillas are more violent than Bonobos, but less violent than either Chimpanzees or Humans. They do not make war, and several troops will share the same, or overlapping, home ranges.
Guerrilla Warfare is something completely different.

Tool Use

In the wild, Gorillas have been observed to use both wooden and stone tools. Their use of tools is probably less than Bonobos, Chimpanzees or Humans.

Types of Gorilla

There are two species of Gorilla, and each species has subspecies.

Gorilla gorilla

This is the first Gorilla species to be recognized. Its subspecies live in the western end of Gorilla country. And it is sometimes called the Western Gorilla.

Western Gorilla Subspecies

The Western Lowland Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla gorilla, lives in the lowland tropical rain forests of western Africa.

Songs of the Gorilla Nation

Songs of the Gorilla Nation, My Journey Through Autism

by Dawn Prince-Hughes Phd.

This is an interesting autobiography of a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, and how her relationship with gorillas eased her acceptance into human society. Asperger’s was only classified as a dis-ability in 1994 and so we have the situation of people like Susan Boyle who were not classified until three years ago. That is they lived for 51 years, aware that something was dreadfully wrong with them, but they did not know what it was, nor did anyone else.

Autistic people are often described as “on the spectrum”, meaning that there is a large range of symptoms. Asperger’s Syndrome usually refers to high-functioning autism. These people are often skilled in certain intellectual subjects, geeky, have extraordinary memories, and excel with maths. Mozart, Jane Austen, and Paul Cezanne are commonly known to have had Asperger’s Syndrome.

Dawn was in this predicament. From the time she was a young child she knew she was different in many ways. She was unable to communicate with other people; yet she was able to understand some complex subjects such as anthropology and philosophy, but not sure how to find her way home, did not recognise people she saw regularly, was afraid of sounds, confused if interrupted when doing something, distracted by bright lights, and when stressed had panic attacks.

From her earliest schooldays, Dawn was the butt of jokes and vindictiveness from teachers and classmates. She was treated like a rebellious idiot because she found it difficult to conform to the norms of others, difficult to relate to people, difficult to understand some things that were simple to everyone else.

She ran away from home at 14 and lived on the streets in squats, drinking and doing drugs. As she got older, she worked as an erotic dancer in strip clubs. Even here she was misunderstood, she often wore heavy leather clothes, even when dancing, which led other dancers to believe she was into S & M. In fact the leather was to give her body a sensation of touch, a tactile feeling that let her feel who she was.

Dawn’s sexuality was blurred; like many Asperger people, they are confused about who they are, what they are, and how they relate to other people. It is known that there is a strong hereditary link with autism, and this becomes absolutely clear when she describes her parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents – all of whom exhibited various aspects of autism.

In the second part of the book, she tells how she began to go to the zoo to watch the animals. It was the gorillas that attracted her attention and she spent hours, days, weeks, and eventually years, watching them, taking notes on their actions and movements, and in particular how they communicated with each other.

It was during this long process, spread over some years, that she began to learn about herself by watching and understanding the gorillas. She came to empathise with the way they were deprived of their real lives, locked in a prison. Although the zoo she attended was one of the best, people walked past the gorillas and mocked them, yelled insults, laughed, or tormented them.

We understand that chimpanzees and gorillas are the smartest of animals, the most human-like. But we know very little about their social life. Dawn examined this, keeping meticulous notes about how they communicated with sounds, movement and actions. She saw the sadness and the crying of the gorillas when one of them died. She learned how they played games, chasing and hiding in the bushes. She watched them as they avoided rain and mud, how they used tools, how they lived in an artificial environment — if they were human we would say a prison. It was just as much a prison to them as it would be to us.

And by her observations and understanding of the gorillas, Dawn learnt to communicate with humans. She copied the movements and actions of the gorillas, she pondered on what they did, how they expressed facial emotions. Her research has been valuable towards the understanding of primates, for herself it led to a PhD.

At one point in the book, Dawn describes a situation where one of the older gorillas is ill and refuses to get up for food. Some of the younger gorillas throw sticks at her. The public watching these events, said it was because they callously want to drive the sick gorilla away. In fact the other gorillas were quite concerned that the sick gorilla would not get up and eat. None of the gorillas would eat while she lay on the ground. Eventually, a stick hit the sick gorilla, and she did get up, and went with the others to eat. Yet the onlookers assumed they were indifferent to the sickness of one of the group.

The book, fairly short at 220 pages, describes her journey through autism, and the lives and actions of the gorillas. They are not the stereotypes we are shown in movies, but more human than we could possible imagine. It is just that too often we see gorillas under threat in the wild, or confined in zoos, their family group torn apart, and so we misunderstand what they mean by their actions.

An interesting auto-biography presenting a different view of gorillas, leading us to a greater understanding of our relationship with animals.