Because of the extensive research begun by Dr. Fossey and since carried on by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and other gorilla conservation groups, the mountain gorilla is one of the most understood of all gorillas. The general consensus of those who work closely with the mountain gorillas is that they are generally peaceful and gentle.
However this doesn't mean that they won't occasionally charge, scream or show their teeth, to an outsider or within the group itself. Most of these Mountain Gorilla actions are meant to serve as warnings, to ward off danger or to prevent a fight. Mountain gorillas can communicate in a variety of ways, including facial expressions, sounds, postures and gestures.
There is the classic chest beating by male gorillas, which is used to show stature, scare off opponents or even to prevent a fight. When the Mountain Gorilla feels threatened they can make a variety of loud sounds, resembling roars or screams. Facial expressions are mostly used as communication. An open mouth with both upper and lower teeth showing means aggressions. A closed mouth with clenched teeth could signal anger.
One of the nicest sounds is heard when the group is resting after a period of feeding. Mountain gorillas roughly spend 30% of their day feeding, 30% traveling or moving, and 40% resting. At dusk, they prepare to settle down for the night and sleep in nests made of vegetation that the gorillas shove under and around them.
One may be surprised that mammals as large and strong as mountain gorillas are primarily herbivores (vegetarians), eating a variety of plants and leaves. Mountain Gorillas eat a staggering 142 different species of plants like celery; nettles, bamboo and thistles, and they are quite particular about what parts of each plant they like to eat.
The Mountain Gorilla also finds ant nests and eats the ants, along with an occasional worm or grub. There isn't much fruit where they live, but they are partial to eating the wild berries that grow in their habitat. The mountain gorillas spend a lot of their time traveling and foraging in search of food, because plants and trees change with the seasons.
Full-grown mountain gorillas can eat up to 60 pounds of vegetation a day!
The Mountain Gorilla is located in the Mountain jungles of Zaire, Rwanda and Uganda. A chain of eight volcanoes known as the Virungas runs through a western section of the Rift Valley, forming part of the border between Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.
Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has more than half of the global population of an estimated population of 780 mountain gorillas. Located in south-western Uganda bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, this UNESCO World Heritage site boasts over 326 mountain gorillas, the largest and rarest of all ape species.The Bwindi chimpanzee population size is unknown but estimated at 350-400. Bwindi the only forest in Africa in which these two types of ape occur together. The forests where the mountain gorillas live are often cloudy, misty and cold. At the bottom of the mountains, the vegetation is very dense, becoming less so as you go higher up.
The World Bank and the UN have recognized the initiative of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in the protection of the globally endangered mountain gorillas. Uganda is the only country in which gorilla populations have been consistently on the rise and where the population is part of effective legislation that recognizes its habitats within a gazetted national system of protected areas.
An excellent way to help protect the last remaining mountain gorillas is to adopt a gorilla. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) makes this possible with proceeds from adoptions directly going to support research on the mountain gorillas.