Uganda Mountain Gorillas in Baby Boom
This only happens in Uganda. The endangered mountain gorillas have gone on a wild baby boom as yet another mountain gorilla is born in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. This park found in the southern western part of Uganda is a World Heritage site. And with the increasing number of births here, it is rightly so.
11th November 2016, Businza gave birth to a new baby. Businza is an adult female in the Rushegura mountain gorilla family. Originally from Habinyanza family, Businza moved to her present family, Rushegura, in 2000.
She gave birth in the morning and was seen by a Uganda Wildlife Authority tracker later in the day. UWA monitors all the habituated gorillas daily to ensure they are in good health and safe.
Speaking of the newest birth, the third in as many months, Dr. Andrew Seguya, has said the consistent and sustained conservation efforts to ensure the survival of the mountain gorillas is paying off.
“Over the last 10 years, Uganda has been leading in conservation of the mountain gorilla. We believe that the pristine and safe habitant is the crucial link in the survival of the gorillas as well as their health and wellbeing,” Dr. Seguya said.
He adds that as a World Heritage Site, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the highest possible level of conservation management. This coupled with safe and secure environment is evidently showing in the growing number of baby mountain gorillas starting a new life here.
“The mountain gorillas are responding to these ideal circumstances by giving birth,” says Dr. Seguya. “At more than 450 individuals, and growing, Bwindi has the largest number of mountain gorillas found anywhere in the world.”
There are 10 groups of habituated gorillas in Bwindi, which is a small number compared to the larger numbers that live in the wild. Less than 900 mountain gorillas are left in the world, and only found in Uganda (over 50%), Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. So, every single birth is a reason for celebration.
The UWA area conservation manager, Mr. Pontius Ezuma says this is Businza’s second birth in two years.
“Businza first gave birth on 14th April 2011. This new baby born on born on 11th November 2016 is her second,” Ezuma has said. “With this baby, the group has now increased to 17 members. This also proves the scientific inter-birth interval for Bwindi as 5 years.”
Photos courtesy of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
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Recent Mountain Gorilla births in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
On 21/08/2016 a baby mountain gorilla was born in the Bushaho gorilla family. This group is under habituation and is located in Nkuringo in the Southern sector of the park.
On 10th September 2016 Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) rangers found another baby a day after its birth in the Bikyingi gorilla group. Bikyingi gorilla group is located in Rushaga, South of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
There are roughly 880 mountain gorillas remaining on Earth, and nearly half live in the lush forests of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and Mgahinga national parks.
Mountain gorillas live in forests high in the mountains, at elevations of 8,000 to 13,000 feet. They have thicker fur, and more of it, compared to other great apes. The fur helps them to survive in a habitat where temperatures often close to freezing.
A few years ago, the survival of the mountain gorillas was very bleak. However, joint interstate and national conservation efforts have seen the population grow. Bwindi has over 50% and Uganda 54% of the mountain gorillas left in the world. The newborn gorillas make are an assurance of a future for the mountain gorillas.
Though demonised by movies like King Kong and Congo, the mountain gorillas are actually gentle giants. These very strong and powerful apes are actually gentle and even shy—say more like Jungle Book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg2hCuDy2wg
Mountain gorillas don’t feed on any meat, eating only plants, shoots and fruit. Red ants are their source of protein.
The struggle for the survival of the mountain gorilla first came to international attention through the work of American scientist Dian Fossey. It was through her efforts, even at the point of death, that probably, the mountain gorilla got the first step away from extinction. The movie “Gorillas in the Mist” features Fossey’s work in the gorilla highlands.
Over the years, these great apes have been threatened by habitant loss, poaching and human activity. A number of conservation initiatives have been set up to support the survival of the remaining great apes. Since the 1980s numbers have risen from 600 to currently over 880. The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) recently carried out a census whose results are yet to be published. The expectation is that numbers will be positive, and the newborn gorilla is just one proof of that.
Female mountain gorillas give birth to one infant after a pregnancy of nearly nine months. The baby mountain gorilla, weighing anything from 1.8 kilograms (four pounds), spends the first three to four years moving around mostly on the mother’s back.
By four years, the infant is fully weaned and ready to eat the main mountain gorilla diet that includes plants, roots, shoots and the occasional red ants that provide protein.
The baby gorilla will eventually grow to weigh up to 160 kg (350 lb) for the males, while the females will hit about 90 kg (200 lb). Mature males are distinguished by the silver strip on the back and thus the name Silverback. The females on the other hand have a crest of hair crowning their heads. Both male and female mountain gorillas are covered by thick hair that keeps them warm in their cold mountainous homes in Bwindi and Mgahinga.
No mountain gorilla is kept in captivity.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in southwestern Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Its mist-covered hillsides are blanketed by one of Uganda’s oldest and most biologically diverse rainforests, which dates back over 25,000 years and contains almost 400 species of plants. More famously, this “impenetrable forest” also protects an estimated 400 mountain gorillas – roughly half of the world’s population, including several habituated groups, which can be tracked.
This biologically diverse region also provides shelter to a further 120 mammals, including several primate species such as baboons and chimpanzees, as well as elephants and antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest, including 23 Albertine Rift endemics.
In 1994, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Average life span in the wild: 35 years
Size: Standing height, 4 to 6 ft (1.2 to 1.8 m)
Weight: 135 to 220 kg (300 to 485 lbs)
Group name: Troop or band
Relative: Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man