How mountain gorillas adapt to their environment is in various ways and is made possible with the gorillas’ physicality and nature of their habitats. Mountain gorillas are an endangered ape species that live in the vast and dense tropical wilderness of the Virunga Massifs that has Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Virunga National Park and Volcanoes National Park; and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These national parks are the only ones in the entire world that inhabit the endangered mountain gorillas that are about 1063 only. The Virunga Massif area and Bwindi are dense tropical rainforests that have an elevation of up to 4000m or more above sea level, and the mountain gorillas still live in them.
The mountain gorillas were almost extinct by the 19th century but with the coming up of primatologists like Dian Fossey and gorilla conservationists, a gradual recovery of the lost gorilla numbers has made them to be listed as endangered and not critically endangered by the year 2018. Mountain gorillas live in families or groups led by a dominant silverback. A single gorilla family/group can consist of 5-30 individuals. Below are some of the ways how mountain gorillas adapt to their environment;
Mountain gorillas adapt to the very cold temperatures in the high-altitude rainforests with the help of the long and thick fur that covers their bodies. The long hairy feature helps them to protect themselves from catching cold-related diseases like flu, cough or pneumonia. This long and thick fur on their bodies also protects them from insect bites that are so common in the rainforests.
Mountain gorillas feed majorly on forest vegetation, which is abundant in these rainforests that they inhabit. This has enabled them to adapt to the environment by feeding entirely on the available vegetation cover and not bother to not only move to other areas in search of food but also chase after prey. The vegetation cover in abundance in the tropical rainforests of the Virunga Massifs and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has the mountain gorillas feed like kings and queens for they do not even have to stretch so far to get what to eat.
The flat teeth of the mountain gorillas which enable them to chew and grind cellulose from their vegetation diet is another way how mountain gorillas adapt to their environment. They are able to chew the vegetation including the roots and shoots with their teeth and the bacteria in their colons helps to breakdown the food to a more digestible form.
Mountain gorillas use their arms for locomotion both on the ground and to pick what to eat, thus one of the ways how mountain gorillas adapt to their environment. They have large arms that are strong enough to help them move on fours say when carrying the little ones on the backs, and also pick food in that they can stand on their feet and stretch to pick their desired foliage.
Their hands have fingers that they use to break shots, leaves and also open fruits that they would like to eat. This is more possible with the fact that they have larger thumbs than the other fingers, thus making it easy for them to exert pressure on the fruit and breaking it open faster.
When faced with a threat say a physical confrontation, a silverback uses his hands to fight off the enemy as they hoot and scream. The silverback also uses the hands to thump on its chest as a sign of authority, thus making it possible for them to adapt to the environment for survival.
One of the ways how mountain gorillas adapt to their environment is by being secretive more so when faced with danger as they would rather move away than take part. Mountain gorillas just like any wild animal can detect danger from a far, and will try as much as possible to prevent a confrontation that they can stealthily walk away when they sense trouble.
Mountain gorillas have also adapted to socialization amongst themselves and to humans as well (those that are habituated and can be visited on a gorilla trekking experience) with the help of their body language and over 25 different vocalizations that they use. They too, like humans, have emotions and they can convey them to their fellow family members and humans, for example when the mountain gorillas are stressed out by human presence, they can get vocal and show signs of distress and the humans leave them alone. This has enabled them to adapt to their environment.
Another way how mountain gorillas adapt to their environment is by living in families with a dominant silverback who dictates the rest of the members’ daily activities including feeding and places to sleep. This gives them a sense of belonging and direction and brings about order in a family.
The above are some of the ways how mountain gorillas adapt to their environment. Mountain gorillas in the rainforests that they live in can be visited in a gorilla trekking safari. There are habituated gorilla families that allow human interaction and presence and it is these that tourists can visit all year long though the dry season of June-Augusts and December-February are the most advised. You will need a gorilla permit to be able to see them, contact a reputable tour operator company to help you with the process and also plan the best gorilla trekking in Africa safari.