Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
Majorly, Volcanoes National Park is notably known for Mountain Gorillas scientifically known as Gorilla beringei beringei. Noted to be descendants of Old World Monkey, the Mountain gorillas are among the two sub species of the eastern gorilla. They occur in two populations with one thriving in the Virunga massif where Volcanoes National Park is a member along with Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Congo’s Virunga National Park while another thrives in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda.
Mountain Gorillas are rare animals living in fragile habitats and with low birth rates which explains their listing as critically endangered on the red list of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Apparently, the global population of Mountain Gorillas is estimated at 880 individuals.
Mountain Gorilla Evolution, Taxonomy and Classification
Noted to be descendants of ancestral apes and monkeys that thrived in the parts of Arabia and Africa at the beginning of the Oligocene epoch about 34 – 24 million years ago, the fossils evidence indicate the existence of Apes in the region of East Africa at approximately 22 – 32 million years ago.
It is believed that at around nine (9) million years ago, the Primate group that would evolve into Gorillas separated from their common ancestor with Chimpanzees and humans leading to the emergence of genus Gorilla. Though this earliest relative of the gorilla is not clear, it was connected to the early ape Procunsul Africanus. The Mountain Gorillas are believed to have separated from the Eastern Lowland Gorillas around 400,000 years but these two taxa are believed to have split from the Western Lowland Gorillas around two (2) million years ago. The classification of Mountain Gorillas has been surrounded by unresolved debate. The initial genus was referred to as Troglodytes in the year 1847 before it was renamed back to Gorilla in the year 1852. Colin Groves in 1967 proposed that all Gorillas be grouped as one species called Gorilla gorilla with three (3) sub species namely Gorilla gorilla gorilla for western lowland gorilla, Gorilla gorilla beringei for Mountain Gorillas and Gorilla gorilla graueri for Eastern lowland gorillas. But the in the year 2003, the World Conservation Union classified them into two (2) species namely; Gorilla beringei and Gorilla gorilla.
Young SilverBack Gorilla
Resting Position Of SilverBack Gorilla
SilverBack Gorilla Family Head
Mountain Gorilla Habitat and Ecology
Mountain Gorillas thrive in the western arm of the Great East African Rift Valley always referred to as the Albertine Rift. They thrive in its montane cloud forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park Uganda along with the Virunga Volcanoes which is a chain of eight (8) Mountains straddling from Uganda, Rwanda to Democratic Republic of Congo. The Virunga massif is protected by three National Parks namely; Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The altitudinal range is 2,200 – 4,300m and the Mountain Gorilla forests are usually misty, cloudy and cold. Mountain Gorillas feed majorly on herbivores diet that include; stems and shoots (85.8%) of around 142 species of plants, bark of trees (6.9%), flowers (2.3%), roots (3.3%) and fruit (1.7%) along with small invertebrates (0.1%). The mature male gorillas can consume up to 34Kgs per day while the females consume up to 18Kgs.