Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mountain Gorilla

Gorilla beringei beringei
There are two distinct Gorilla species in the world, and each one has two subspecies of its own. The Mountain Gorilla is one of the Eastern Gorilla subspecies, and is found only in a handful of Central African Countries. As indicated by the name, these Primates live at higher elevations-- they inhabit mountainous cloud forests that have altitude of up to 14,000ft.

Mountain Gorillas are the second largest of the Gorillas (behind only the Eastern Lowland). They have longer hair to help with the colder climate, and shorter arms than many of their lowland cousins. Despite their huge size and sometimes ferocious look, these primates are primarily herbivores, and feed on over 100 different plant species.

Like all Gorillas, they live in very structured social groups. These troops, which can have as many as 40 individuals, are led by a dominant male called a "Silverback" (named for the grey hairs that grow on their backs with age). The Silverback decides where the group eats and rests, and protects them from intruders and predators.

Mountain Gorillas are sadly listed as Critically Endangered. Habitat loss, disease, local unrest in human populations, and poaching have reduced their numbers down to only about 800 individuals. Conservation efforts are being made to save this subspecies, and it appears that the decline has stopped and possibly reversed. However, there is still a great deal of work to be done to keep their habitats safe, and to educate the peoples living near the Gorillas.

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered
Location : Central Africa
Size : Males - Weight up to 430lb (195kg), Height up to 5ft (1.5m); Females - Weight up to 22lbs (100kg), Height up to 4.5ft (1.3m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Primates
Family : Hominidae -- Genus : Gorilla -- Species : G. beringei -- Subspecies : G. b. beringei
Image : Tknoxb

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