By Rani Iyer
Scientific Name: Gorilla beringei beringei
To see these gentle giants, you need to trek deep into the forests in Central Africa. Mountain forests in Uganda, Rwanda, and Virunga are home to Mountain Gorillas. If you can’t see them hidden in the thick vegetation, you might be able to hear one of their 25 known calls.
The forests here are usually covered by mist and feel cold most of the time. Such forests are called cloud forests. Mountain Gorillas have thick fur to keep them warm in cold temperatures.
They live in groups of 10, although the groups can be as small as 5 or as large as 30. Each individual can be distinguished by its unique nose print. The adult male is called Silverbacks. Can you guess why? The silverbacks develop sliver-colored hair on their backs as they grow old. Usually all infants in the group have same father, but different mothers.
Mountain gorillas are mainly herbivores. An adult male can eat 75 lb (35 kg) of leaves, flowers, fruits, and some insects, while an adult female can eat 40 lb (18 kg). A silverback weighs about 590 lb (266 kg) and is 6 ft 4 inches tall (1.94 m). The females are much smaller than the male.
Today, mountain gorillas are threatened by disease, loss of forests, and poaching. In a way, these problems are all connected. As humans moved higher up on the mountain to plant coffee or clear land for agriculture, they clear forests. The mountain gorillas are genetically similar to human beings and develop human diseases when they live close to humans. And human beings also hunt mountain gorillas for bush meat. Because the mountain gorillas live in a close-knit group, loss of one individual disrupts their social structure.
The people of Rwanda now protect mountain gorillas by a unique naming ceremony called Kwita Izina.
Want to help mountain gorillas, check out this site: http://koko.org/kidsclub/
Here are some ideas to incorporate Mountain Gorillas in lessons:
More pictures of mountain gorillas
Blue and Gold Macaw
Grey Winged Trumpeter
Asian black bear
Black-and-white ruffed lemur
Black-faced spider monkey
Brown capuchin monkey
Capybara [2nd profile]
Eastern Long Beaked Echidna
Malagasy Giant Jumping Rat
Plains Zebra not a rainforest species
South American tapir
South American coatimundi
Leatherback Sea Turtle not a rainforest species
Pygmy stump-tailed chameleon
Giant Chinese Salamander
Gladiator Tree Frog
Green Poison Arrow Frog
Indian Purple Frog
All about Rainforests
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