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Prized Silverbacks

Prized Silverbacks

Prized Silverbacks

Uganda and Rwanda are the only countries in East Africa where mountain gorillas can be trekked. Mountain gorillas are globally known as an endangered species. There are only about 1000 individual mountain gorillas in the whole world, and over 400 of these are found in  Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Uganda). A population of over 240 individuals can be encountered in  celebrated Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda).

What are the silverbacks

Silverbacks are adult male gorillas. They standout at an average weight of 195 kg and a height of 168 cm, usually weighing twice as much as the females. The tallest silverback that has been recorded was 1.95 m, with an arm span of 2.7 m, a chest of 1.98 m,  and a weight of 219 kg. The heaviest silverback recorded weighed 267 kg and measured up to 1.83 m in height. Adult males are called silverbacks because they normally have a saddle of grey or silver-coloured hair which develops on their backs with age. The hair on their backs is much shorter than that on most of the other body parts. The other outstanding feature that distinguishes the adult males is their pronounced bony crests on the very top and back of their skulls, which gives their heads a more conical shape. Like other gorillas, the silverbacks feature dark brown eyes framed by a black ring around the iris.

 Silverbacks  are usually dominant heads of their groups. Mountain gorillas are highly social, they live in groups bound together by long-term bonds between adult males and females. The  silverback will defend his group rather than his territory. The average length of tenure for the ruling silverback is usually between 4 – 5 years. Most mountain gorilla groups in Rwanda are comprised of one adult male and a number of females. A few groups have more than one adult male and others are all-male, usually comprised of one mature male and a few younger ones. Group sizes vary from 5 – 30 individuals, with an average of ten members per group. A typical mountain gorilla group has; one dominant silverback who stands out as a the group’s undisputed leader, a subordinate silverback who is usually a younger brother or half-brother or an adult son of the reigning silverback. The other members in the group can include; one or two black-backs who act as sentries, 3 – 4 sexually mature females who are uniquely bonded to the dominant silverback for life, and 3 – 6 juveniles and infants.

The behaviors of the silverbacks

The silverbacks are terrestrial . They can however climb into fruiting trees when the branches bears their weight. They are diurnal; most active during the day. Silverbacks spend most of their hours eating, since they need large quantities of food to sustain their massive bulk. They construct new nests every evening from the surrounding vegetation to sleep in. The size of home or area occupied by a silverback and its group varies and is influenced by the availability of food sources. The home range usually includes several vegetation zones to give the family a variety to feed on