A video report in the Democratic Republic of Congo where 200 of the world’s last silverback mountain gorillas are in a desperate fight for their survival.
Behavior of the Mountain Gorillas (Source WWF)
Although strong and powerful, gorillas are generally gentle and shy. They live in groups of 2-40 individuals, averaging about 11. Groups are led by a dominant male, the silverback, named for the silvery gray hairs that grow when the male matures. The silverback serves as the chief leader and protector of the group, to whom all group members defer. He decides when and where to forage, rest and sleep, arbitrates disputes among his family members and protects them from rival silverbacks or human predators.
Mountain gorillas have a slow rate of reproduction. This slow reproduction makes this species even more threatened. In a 40-50 year lifetime, a female might have only 2-6 living offspring. Females give birth for the first time at about age 10 and will have offspring every four years or more. A male reaches sexual maturity between 10 and 12 years. Able to conceive for only about three days each month, the female produces a single young and in rare cases twins.
Newborn gorillas are weak and tiny, weighing about 4 pounds. Their movements are as awkward as those of human infants, but their development is roughly twice as fast. At 3 or 4 months, the gorilla infant can sit upright and can stand with support soon after. It suckles regularly for about a year and is gradually weaned at about 3.5 years, when it becomes more independent.