Silverback gorilla


Silverbacks gorillas are part of the gorilla family and are known to be the biggest gorillas on earth. The silverback gorillas are males, and because of their back’s silver color, they attained the name “silverback. Silverback gorillas come in different species i.e., mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas. They have likeness with humans and come third following chimpanzees and bonobos, in their DNA similarity with human beings. For a gorilla to be called silverback, it must be mature adult male gorilla. Those in the average growth age are regarded as ‘blackbacks’. They become silverbacks after about 12-13 years of age. Silverback gorillas have grey hair line around their flanks and at the back of their heads. They are therefore easily identifiable.

Strength of silverback gorillas.

A single silverback gorilla’s strength is equal to the combined strength of 9 adult males. Silverback gorillas have great muscle composition, coupled with their fairly giant height and length, they are extremely strong creatures. Human beings are warned against seeking duels against a silverback, because the consequences would not be likeable.

Life span of silverback gorillas.

Silverback gorillas have a fair lifespan and because of their feeding habits and external threats, they can live up to 35 to 40 years.

Height and weight of silverback gorillas.

Silverback gorillas can weigh between 135 to about 200 kilograms for the fully grown male. The height of an average silverback is estimated at about a standing height of 1.5 to 2 meters. Their arm span can be stretched to an average of 2.2 to 2.6 meters, depending on individual silverback.

Silverback gorilla Habitats.

Silverback gorillas live in tropical highland and lowland areas. They survive best in tropical forestlands with a mixture of some alpine vegetation such as bamboo. In the bamboo, they build their nests and breed zones. The tropical forests have hardwood trees on which these creatures jump on their branches with minimal likelihood of falling which could be dangerous for their survival.

Are silverback gorillas aggressive?

Many people have bought into the fallacy that these creatures are naturally aggressive. Well that’s untrue. Silverbacks are generally calm creatures. When it comes to dominant silverback gorillas, they opt to lead an exemplary life for other family members. They can only become violent when their families are threatened.

These threats maybe internal, such as errant family members, or external, such as from predators and annoying human behavior. Even when threatened, their first duty is to assert and declare dominance by thumping their chests at their potential enemies. A distinction should be made between the habituated and non-habituated silverback gorillas. This provides required caution on which silverback gorillas get close to by tourists.

What do silverbacks eat?

Silverback gorillas are primarily herbivores. They feed on leaves, fruits and shoots from mostly bamboo trees. They also eat ants, termites, and small worms. Depending on the season, the silverbacks also eat flowers and fungi. Their great love for soft stems is a factor for their brute strength.

Conservation classification.

Silverback gorillas are part of the gorilla species that have been classified as endangered by UNESCO and World Gorilla Fund. Thankfully, conservation activities have been expedited over the years by the respective authorities to protect their habitats from being encroached on by human activity and protection from being poached which is a threat to their numbers.

Silverback role in the family unit.

Similar to humans, silverback gorillas are social creatures. They lead their families and equally as a social trait. These dominant silverbacks provide required leadership in a gorilla family unit, and has rights on deciding who mates with the female gorillas. Silverbacks also provide protection to females and their young ones in any instance of threats. They are also in charge of locating suitable breeding grounds on which the family can build their nest.

Where to view and trek silverback gorillas?

Silverbacks can be viewed in the Virunga region of Uganda, D.R Congo and Rwanda. For Rwanda, they inhabit Volcanoes National Park. In Uganda, they can be visited in Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In D.R Congo, they live in Maiko National Park, Itombwe Massif, Virunga National Park, Kahuzi Biega National Park and Tanya Gorilla Reserve.

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