What are the Natural Sleeping Habits of Gorillas?

what-are-the-natural-sleeping-habits-of-gorillas

Africa is the home of the largest primate in the world – the gorilla, which is classified into two groups. The lowland gorillas habituate the dense and flat forests of western and central Africa while the mountain gorillas are found in the mountainous parts of central Africa. While they are quite similar, there are some differences as well. Lowland gorillas have soft, short hair and the mountain gorillas have longer hair. The mountain gorillas stand 4 to 6 feet tall and weigh from 135 to 220 kg (300 to 485 lbs). The lowland gorillas are of the same height but are lighter. Their weight ranges between 68 to 181 kg or 150-400 lbs.

Habitat

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Angola and Equatorial Guinea are the areas where lowland gorillas live. You can find mountain gorillas in the dense mountains of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. According to the National Geographic, a group of gorillas may claim a territory of about 41 square kilometres or 16 square miles.

Diet

Generally, gorillas are herbivores and usually feast on tree pulp, tree bark, roots, fruits and shoots of vegetation. They are also known to eat insects and small animals. They can consume about 15 kg or 40 lbs of vegetation every single day. The diet of lowland gorillas consists largely of fruits, leaves, stems, seeds and partly by caterpillars and termites. Mountain gorillas on the other hand love stems, shoots and leaves, fruits, flowers and roots. They also eat grubs, ants and snails in small amounts.

Habits

Gorillas are not solitary animals and are found in groups, called bands or troops. A band could have about 50 members, although there are instances when a group can only have two. A dominant male, often called a silverback, is the leader of a group.

Like humans, a day in the life of a group of gorillas is broken down into different activities. Feeding time is during morning and evening. Midday is spent grooming each other, playing or napping. They sleep in the evening.

Sleeping Habits

Again, just like humans, gorillas prepare their beds in the evening. Before you start imagining that gorilla beds are close to what you see in advertisements for latex mattress brands, their beds are called nests. Gorillas build their nests on trees, which younger gorillas prefer. The older members of the troops often find spots on the ground.

It might look random, but gorillas choose where they will build their nest for the night. They consider security, that is why most younger gorillas sleep in nests they build on trees. They also consider the amount of vegetation around them, especially for those who are sleeping on the ground.

Gorillas are also very peculiar and particular, since they build a new nest each night, even if the previous ones they used are just a few feet away. Only infant gorillas are exempt from building their own nest, as they bed down with their mothers.

Gorillas start to build the nest before the evening sets in, because they prefer to be in their nests approximately about one hour after dark. Sometimes, they also prepare simpler nests for their midday nap.

The method in which gorillas build their nests is quite fascinating. After locating a good spot on the ground where there’s a nice clump of vegetation, they will pull the branches of nearby plants and bushes into the centre. They interlace the branches to create several layers, in effect, creating a nice, thick cushion or mattress. The interlacing of branches and leaves is also an effective method to anchor them. They bend or break other branches to form the rim of their nest. Other branches are pulled together to form a makeshift roof.

Nests built on trees must be strong enough to support the gorilla’s weight. The gorilla usually finds a fork in the branches to ensure that it will be a sturdy anchor. The primate will then pull down smaller branches toward the centre, following an interlacing pattern to secure the broken or bent branches, with the leaves providing a soft, warm and thick mattress. A roof of clumped branches is usually constructed as well.

Nest building is not unique to gorillas. Their cousins, the chimpanzees, also build nests. But still, the nest-building dynamics is fascinating to watch, if you’re lucky.

Also see: How Climate Change Affects Gorilla Population?

The Deforestation Threat to Gorillas and How to Help

the-deforestation-threat-to-gorillas-and-how-to-help

Animals in the wild are continuously threatened by deforestation, which limits their natural habitat. Gorillas are one of the four great ape species that are closest to humans in DNA structure. The other three are orangutans, bonobos and chimpanzees. Gorillas are herbivores and live on fruits, vines, roots, shoots and leaves. They are found in the rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Angola, Gabon, Equatorial New Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon. These shy animals dwell on land and construct their nests or beds of plant materials and leaves at dusk.

Threats to gorillas

There are several threats that endanger gorillas. There are the ongoing human conflicts in the areas where gorillas are found. Poaching is also a huge problem. Illegal traders capture young gorillas and sell them off. Unselective hunting for various wildlife, including bush pigs and antelopes inadvertently caught gorillas in their snares. Recently gorilla poaching for bush meat has been discovered.

Gorillas are also threatened by many diseases due to their exposure to humans because they have not developed any immunity to various viruses and illnesses. Although tourism is of great help in providing funds for gorilla conservation in Africa, they also have devastating effect on the primates as well as their environment. Debris left by tourists, militia, refugees and poachers contaminate the gorilla parks.

Habitat loss and deforestation

The greatest threat to gorillas is habitat loss. Rainforests are increasingly being cleared and degraded. This is mainly due to population growth and poverty. Just like during the Roman Empire, forested lands were quickly converted for agriculture, depleting the limited natural resources like wood for fuel and heat, which contributed to deforestation. Deforestation happens everywhere, including the areas in Africa that gorillas inhabit. Sadly, chainsaw manufacturers don’t really care about this because deforestation efforts fuel their business. What about the company who makes the best chainsaw? Well, they choose to keep mum about the matter to avoid further controversies and backlash from environmentalists.

The truth is, gorillas are finding it more difficult to sustain their lives as their natural habitat becomes smaller. It is not only the gorillas that are affected by the changes in the environment. Humans are affected as well. Over the years, various habitats such as lakes, plains and swamps, aside from forests around the world continue to disappear. They are harvested to support human consumption. Forests and other habitats are cleared for pipelines, roads, housing and agriculture to be developed for industrial progress.

Half of the original forests in the world have already disappeared and the practice continues. The level of regrowth is 10x slower than the rate of deforestation. Other factors include forest fires, ranching, unsustainable logging, oil exploration, mining and natural degradation because of climate change.

How to help the gorillas and the forests

  • Gorilla tourism significantly contribute to their conservation, as it provides the funds to create jobs and other benefits to local communities living close to the gorillas. Income from gorilla tourism also contribute to conservation projects to help the great apes. You can do your part by visiting the gorillas in Africa that are living in protected natural gorilla parks.
  • You can visit the WWF site and purchase a “Gorilla’s Paradise” gift to support the protected areas in Gabon. You can also make cash donations to WWF to support the organisation’s conservation efforts for gorillas.
  • Use social networking sites to share information about gorillas and encourage others to support legitimate organisations working to help conserve gorillas and their habitat.
  • Help organisations like the World Wide Fund for Nature, Conservation International, Community Forestry International and Greenpeace to conserve rainforests. On your own you can help save the forests from being degraded by purchasing recycled items like shopping bags, toilet paper, books and notebooks.
  • Farmers should rotate crops to maintain soil fertility and prevent deforestation from spreading. They can also plant high-yield hybrid crops and try hydroponics.
  • Limit your consumption of palm oil, one of the ingredients in the production of some shampoos, chocolates and breads. Thousands of trees in Indonesia and Malaysia were cut to give way to palm oil plantations, which effectively reduced the native habitats of orangutans.
  • Volunteer in reforestation projects and try to plant at least five trees each year.

While we cannot prevent progress, we can support projects aimed for sustainable and alternative programs that can enhance human and industrial development. Support development projects that will not do too much damage on forests that can affect the lives of many wildlife such as gorillas, and conversely, human population.

How Strong are Gorillas Compared to Humans

how-strong-are-gorillas-compared-to-humansChimpanzees are smaller than gorillas and they are noted for their strength. This suggests that gorillas are stronger than chimpanzees and humans as well. Although not officially confirmed, it’s been said that a gorilla is 20 times stronger than 20 human beings. That is a lot of brute strength that not even hours of pumping your muscles on the best workout bench daily can give you.

No available study

Scientifically speaking, there is no available research on how strong a gorilla can be compared to human beings. There are people who say that a male silverback is about 10 times stronger than a an adult human. Others say that it is stronger by about 27 times. There is no conclusive proof however. Still there are videos showing the massive strength of the world’s largest primate. They have been filmed uprooting banana plants that a human being will not be able to do. There are also videos showing an adult female gorilla building a nest by breaking full grown bamboo stems with just one hand.

Using a chimpanzee as basis

There has been studies done in the past to identify the strength of chimpanzees, pound for pound. An experiment was done in 1924 at the Bronx Zoo by John Bauman, a biologist. The pulling strength of a male chimp was studied versus a man of the same weight – 165 pounds. A pulling machine called a dynamometer was used. The man pulled at over 150 lbs, reaching a maximum of 200 lbs after two tries. The chimp on the other hand was able to pull 847 pounds, or about 5x more than the adult male of the same weight.

The chimp was not trained to do it and in actual fact, the dynamometer was placed behind his bars at the zoo. Further studies showed that it was not the maximum pulling strength of the chimpanzee. In the same experiment, a female chimp was able to pull 1,260 pounds with one arm. It would seem that chimps raised in the wild can be stronger than the two chimps that were born and raised in captivity.

Just like their cousins

Gorillas, just like their cousins, the chimps and orangutans, are trained to brachiate (swing from one hold to another). This action allowed them to move swiftly from tree branch to tree branch quickly. Although they can walk and run, they brachiate more especially when they have to escape and hide.

Based on studies in the past that were conducted on chimps and orangutans, it is safe to say that gorillas are also stronger than humans. They fight for supremacy to be the leader of a troop. Considering their weight, they can easily swing from branch to branch. They are able to climb and jump in the air. You have to consider their height as well, which range from 4 feet to 6 feet or 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres.

Gorillas do have massive strength, particularly in their upper bodies. They can do so much damage if they are angry. However, even in the wild, gorillas are very gentle, thus their incredible strength is not displayed that much.

Saving The Congo Gorillas From Extinction

g29The Congo Basin is home to some rare fauna and is one of the best bio-diverse with a wide range of species. There are some exclusive species in the region. Among the long list of species, the most endangered are the lowland Gorilla, an inhabitant of Gabon and the Republic of Congo. This is the place where you can find most of the lowland Gorilla. Congo is devoid of anthropogenic influences, yet there is a serious decline in the number of gorillas. The reason attributed is the rise in infrastructural developmental activities happening in the rainforests, disturbing the ecosystem.

featured-200-clouds-mountain-300x300The Endangered Species International (ESI) promotes conservational projects to save the planet from flora and fauna extinction. ESI has its site in the Congo basin and the study reveals around 58 gorillas live in 123 sq km. It was estimated that the density of weaned gorillas was at 0.81 individuals/sq km in the forest and no individuals in the degraded forests. In protected areas with well-preserved habitats, the gorillas were lower than expected. There is a hot spot for the gorillas. The human activities are threatening the very existence of the animals in the Congo region. It is putting tremendous pressure on the animals.

In the study site of 123 sq km, the ESI protects the lowland gorillas as part of the conservation activities. Other endangered species in studied in the project includes mandrills, forest elephants. African dwarf crocodiles among others. There is some plant life that is also threatened. The major cause of concern was illegal wild meat hunting and deforestation happening for the past 2 decades. Now these concerns have been contained to a certain extent. ESI works in close coordination with the forest hunters and has started a cooperative named the Hunter for Gorilla Conservation program. Moreover, with the help of ESI, an ecotourism on a small scale is being conducted along with awareness seminars.

Read also : Simple Trekking Rules To Follow During Gorilla Tourism

How Climate Change Affects Gorilla Population?

gIt was the World Environment Day, and the university students of Goma were enlightened on the climate change and its effects on the ecosystem by Tuver Wundi. The Great Lakes is the home to some exotic and threatened species, and it is the abode of mountain gorillas. It is also home to diverse ecosystems. The extreme use of natural resources at the border of the Virunga National Park can have adverse consequences on the ecosystem. The loss of the habitat is attributed to the illegitimate fuel market. It is the greatest threat gorillas are facing. The species depends on plants for both food and shelter, and the destruction of the forest is threatening their livelihood.

777AC506-9076-46CF-8742-EBE22410D6C2_mw1024_mh1024_sThe habitat loss can also be attributed to being the reason for the problem. The major cause for the climate change is illegal deforestation globally. It is only in the recent past that people have started to notice the problems faced in Africa due to the changes in the climate. The weather patterns change, and the harvest is disrupted. If this act of negligence is not stopped, it could be detrimental to the ecosystem. It is important to act now before everything goes out of control informs Tuver.

The university students were listening intensely to the speech, and their reception was cordial says Tuver. The interest shown by the students is a good sign that the future is in safe hands. The awareness of the climate change and its dangers in the eastern Congo region is on the rise, and it is no more the interest of a few environmentalists and gorilla conservationists who look for immediate action but also the student community. The students have to get engaged in environmental activities and should take an active part in educating the communities on protecting the forest, saving the gorilla and save the planet from destruction, ended Tuver.

Read also : Facts On Gorillas

Protecting The Great Apes Of Congo

CGJIWbUUsAAissaEffective conservation is teamwork, and it can be achieved with only working in coordination with government authorities and NGOs. This fact is true to the Congo basin that is driven by insecurity and poverty along with the red-tapism of the bureaucracy. The special awareness event at Goma was organized by the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) along with NGOs supported by the funds from Arcus Foundation. The workshop had a huge turnout and elaborated on the functioning of the governments and the civil society in protecting the great apes from extinction in the Congo region.

programme_chimpanzes_3The lecture of Jean-Claude Kyungu Kasolene was information, and he runs the conservation project at Mount Tshiaberium. JC has completed the master’s degree in Gorilla behavior and can tell the genetic difference among the four types of gorillas, their behavior and habitat patterns and how it can affect the conservation process. There was sufficient information on how the local communities benefited from the protection of Gorillas and primates. It may be noted that the southern part of Nigeria and Cameroon benefitted immensely by the protection of the species. It has helped in developing the forest.

Once JC finished his speech, prominent official from the region pledged their support to protect both chimpanzees and gorillas. Anselme Kitakya, the Provincial Minister of the Environment from the North Kivu and the Vice President, inked the agreement for the protection of flora and fauna in the region that remains to be the last habitat for the gorillas and other primates. With this done, the team is all set to roll out the SafeZone Project where two million trees will be planted, and a safe habitat will be created for the Gorillas away from human interference. The saplings will take the time to grow into trees, but nevertheless, the beginning is made.

Read also : Mountain Gorilla- Gorilla Beringei Beringei

Tips To Safeguard The Mountain Gorillas

gallery_snowflake_3Tourists and animal lovers are always thrilled spotting endangered species and are often enthused to feel these creatures. But animal activists say that it is not wise to have close contact with the endangered species. Mountain gorillas are threatened by the disease transmission that happens during contact with the humans. This has been a cause of concern for activists who work for the preservation of these species. Though, it cannot be denied that research and work of the scientists along with tourism play a vital role in the survival of these endangered species.

There are some tips offered by the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. The good news is tourism protects the species from going extinct. The DR Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda are the home to the mountain gorillas. The mode of livelihood is farming in Africa. The government has restricted agriculture in the gorilla’s volcano surroundings as an effort to protect the species. This extreme step has been taken because the funds coming from tourism is more than using the park for other purposes. Gorillas are susceptible to disease that affects humans and therefore it is advised not to trek when you are sick.

While on gorilla tourism ensures that you do not alter the behavioral pattern of the ape. It is advised to stay 7 meters away from the animal. Younger gorillas do not know the rules and try to touch the humans, so it is safe to stay 7 meters during the interaction with the animal. The best way to be part of the effort of saving the endangered species is to donate for the cause. The conservation project runs mostly on donations and grants. While donating, evaluate the organization and offer your contributions. Apart from gorilla trekking, there are other activities available in the park that also needs your attention, like visiting the Nyiragongo volcano, My Karismibi, seeing golden monkeys and more.