What do Gorillas eat? – Mountain Gorilla diet and eating habits

What do Gorillas eat? – Mountain Gorilla diet and eating habits

Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) eat on a daily to survive in their habitat and with their huge size, one may wonder; what do gorillas eat? Or what is the mountain gorilla diet and eating habits. Gorillas mainly have a vegetarian diet. They mainly feed on stems, bamboo shoots and fruits. The mountain gorilla subspecies consume about 142 plant species and only about 3 types of fruit (fruit is limited due to the altitude). About 86% of their diet includes leaves, shoots and stems. Others include about 7% roots, 3% flowers, 2% fruit and 2% ants, snails and grubs.

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Gorillas feeding

Gorillas are giants that gain weight of up to 440 pounds for the adult males and can reach a height of six feet when standing bipedally.

Other gorilla species including the Eastern lowland gorilla, Western lowland gorilla and Cross River gorilla also are mainly vegetarian. They only add in a small percentage of invertebrates. All gorillas survive on vegetation, however this has a relatively low nutritional value and therefore should be consumed in large quantities.

Each day, an adult male gorilla may consume more than 18kg (40 lbs.) of vegetation.

The mountain gorilla diet is mainly vegetation and rarely do they drink water. This is because they consume succulent vegetation that is comprised of almost half water.

How do gorillas collect their food?

Gorillas collect their food from within their habitat that they spend most of their day foraging. Gorillas use their incredible strength to break apart vegetation for instance an adult male can shred a whole banana tree to get to the interior tender pith. Gorillas are very selective foragers and usually eat only parts of vegetation for instance they may eat only leaves, pith, stalk or roots of particular plant. They use their agile lips and hand dexterity to manipulate the vegetation for the particular portion they want to consume. The gorilla habitat always has food because the nature in which they eat is not over exploitative, they crop the vegetation in a manner that allows for quick replenishment to occur.

Where to trek Mountain Gorillas – Uganda, Rwanda & Congo

Gorilla trekking is one of the top Africa tour activities restricted only within the Virunga volcanoes and Bwindi forest. Africa gorilla trekking destinations or where to see gorillas in Africa is only in four national parks within three countries. Mountain gorillas are the only sub species of genus gorilla that hardly survives in zoos and therefore only in their natural habitats which requires tourists to visit and trek in order to see them. Mountain gorillas are found only in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo with only about 1063 individuals remaining. They are found in the four Africa national parks which are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in Congo. Here are details of where to see gorillas in Africa for a gorilla trek;

Volcanoes National Park – Rwanda

Mountain gorillas of Rwanda are found in the Volcanoes National Park in the north western region of the country. There are 10 gorilla families in the park and all have been habituated for gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda. It is in Rwanda where the premier works of gorilla conservation were pioneered by the primatologist Dian Fossey who lost her life during the struggle to protect mountain gorillas in the park.

Rwanda is a very convenient gorilla trekking destination with the country making it possible for tourists to have short trips as well as easily combine tours to other East African countries. With the Kigali International Airport being just a few hours’ drive from Volcanoes National Park East African trips including Kenya safaris or Tanzania wildlife safaris can be undertaken with Rwanda gorilla trekking on one trip.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is situated in south western Uganda covering about 321 square kilometers. About 459 mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi most of them habituated in gorilla families. There are more than 36 habituated gorilla families in the park found in four different sectors. The different sectors include Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija and Nkuringo. These are in the different sides of the park and a sector is allocated during the time of permit booking according to availability. Bwindi forest is the only habitat out of the four national parks that have mountain gorillas in Africa which has both gorilla trekking and gorilla habituation. The gorilla habituation experience is the best way of understanding the behavior of mountain gorillas that share about 97% of their DNA with human beings.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Uganda

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is also situated in south western Uganda and the smallest gorilla habitat in Uganda covering only 33.7 square kilometers. Mgahinga is part of the Virunga massif where Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of Congo. Mgahinga National Park is home to only one gorilla family known as the Nyakagezi gorilla group which has 10 individuals. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga is known to be easier since the gorilla population in this park moves within a short range. This is why many people who do not prefer trekking for long hours, chose to take their gorilla safaris in Uganda in this park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is very accessible in Uganda both by road and air and also from Rwanda. The park can easily be accessed by road for tourists arriving in the country through Kigali International Airport in Rwanda.

Virunga National Park – Democratic Republic of Congo

In Congo, the mountain gorillas are found in Virunga National Park which is found within the Virunga Mountains of which Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda and the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda are also part. Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area. Situated in a region which has been deeply impacted by the effects of war and armed conflict for over 20 years, Virunga is protected by a dedicated team of over 700 rangers. The park has three primate species which are the mountain gorilla, eastern lowland gorilla and the eastern chimpanzee.

Gorilla Cousins Rwanda has expertise in organizing Rwanda gorilla tours, Uganda gorilla tour packages as well as Congo gorilla safaris. Mountain gorilla trekking is an experience of a lifetime and a great primate tracking experience just like chimpanzee trekking.


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