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Gorillas of the Virungas live in family groups consisting of about 25 to 35 members. When male Gorillas mature, they develop a silver-like color at the back hence the name 'Silver Back'. A silver back is the leading male in a Gorilla family, accompanied by several females with their young infants.
Gorillas babies are born weighing about 2.5 kilograms, approximately half the weight of a normal human newly born. A baby gorilla grows faster than a human baby; within a period of 40 weeks its able to walk and starts getting independence at this age. Male gorillas start donning a silver coat at the age of 12 and this is the right time to leave their parent group and start their own family or join another group of bachelors. Female Gorillas however mature early at the age of six.
The gestation period of Gorillas is about eight and half months and a female gives birth at intervals of four years. Many baby gorillas do not normally make it as there are many accidents and diseases that affect them. Also one deadly incident that can frustrate baby gorillas is when a leading silver back dies; usually the new silver back that takes over will kill the babies of the dead silver back to secure his genes in the succeeding generations.
Family authority and power are clearly laid out in a gorilla family. The leading male - silverback has the top most position and the senior females rule over the younger infants. Like with other species in the animal world, gorilla males achieve the high ranking because of their size. Male mountain gorillas can weigh up to 200 kg and can reach 1.70 meter when they are standing upright. Besides the strength they also have to prove their experience and abilities. It is their duty to protect their family from danger and external intruders.
A usual Day in the Life of a Mountain Gorilla
On a normal day gorillas spend most of its time at rest. A day starts in the morning at 6am to look for food within their territorial home usually 20 sq kilometer. The rest of the time of the day is spent traveling and feeding. Mountain Gorillas are unique among primates; they are vegetarians by nature and spend most of their time on the ground.
A daily meal of a gorilla consists of roots, leaves, stems and pith of herbs, vines and shrub, and some fruits. During certain months of the year bamboo shoots supply a major part in their diet as well. A male adult can even eat up to 20 kg per day! Because the gorillas receive a large quantity of water from its diet, they rarely have to drink.
In the afternoons, they mainly spent it resting and playing. This last activity is very important in the social life, especially for young gorillas, as it determines their integration into the group. They hug each other, bite, hit or wrestle till one is pulled down on the ground.
Concluding a day, just before duck, the great apes start constructing a nest where they will spend their night. Every single gorilla has its own nest, except for the infants who sleep next to their mothers. Nests are built on the ground or in trees and are carefully constructed by branches of bushes and other plants.