Its a little known fact that each and every baby gorilla born
is today subject to a naming ceremony called Kwita Izina. This
revival of the ancient tradition is a reflection of the
growing importance of the status of mountain gorillas in the
country. Whilst mankind does not pose a direct threat to the
gorilla through hunting or poaching (although poaching is once
again becoming an issue despite the gorilla being seen to
manually destroy poaching equipment), many are injured or
killed by traps set for other animals or threatened by loss of
habitat as poor farmers convert forests to farm production.
were also accidentally killed during the conflicts in Rwanda,
however recent research indicates that the gorilla population
of Rwanda has increased by some 17% in the last few years.
is believed that there are only about 380 mountain gorillas in
Rwanda today (out of an estimated 760 in the world), a very
small population for a mammal that is the closest living
relation of mankind having a genus that split from humans just nine million years ago. They mainly live in the Virunga
Mountains of central Africa, between Uganda, Rwanda and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The mountain gorilla of
Rwanda is mostly herbivore living on a diet of leaves, stems
and shoots although they are also known to eat small mammals and
they live in groups, being a highly social mammal.
A young male gorilla will leave
its group when its about eleven years old and set off with other
males for a couple of years before identifying young females and
creating a new group with them. Such groups range from 3-30 in
number. By the age of twelve years he is known as a 'silverback'
reflecting the patch of silver hair on his back which is evident
by this age. If the male dies without
leaving a male offspring capable of controlling the group,
another adult gorilla will move in and take control even killing
off male heirs to force the females to have more children. The
mountain gorilla has an average age of between 30-50 years,
although most live to around 35yrs in the wild. The male gorilla
grows to around 5ft 6" weighing 28 stone whilst females grow to
around 4ft 6" and normally weigh around 14 stone.