By Collins Wafula
Gorillas are often misunderstood as aggressive and dangerous animals, but in reality, they are gentle giants. These intelligent primates are highly social and live in groups called troops, led by a dominant male known as a silverback. Within a troop, gorillas display a wide range of emotions, including playfulness, kindness, and affection. Despite their large size and strength, gorillas are generally peaceful animals and will only use aggression as a last resort to defend themselves or their troop.
There are two main subspecies of gorillas: the eastern gorilla and the western gorilla. The eastern gorilla is further divided into the mountain gorilla and the eastern lowland gorilla, while the western gorilla is divided into the western lowland gorilla and the Cross River gorilla. Each subspecies has its own distinct characteristics, such as differences in size, coloration, and geographic range.
Gorillas are omnivorous and their diet consists of a variety of plants, including leaves, stems, fruits, and seeds, as well as insects and other small animals. They have a complex culture and use a variety of vocalizations, gestures, and facial expressions to communicate with each other.
Gorilla families are led by a dominant male silverback and consist of multiple females and their offspring. The silverback is responsible for protecting and caring for the group, while the females are responsible for caring for the young. Gorillas have a strong bond with their families and will stay with the same group for their entire lives.
Threats to gorillas include habitat loss, poaching, and disease. The loss of their natural habitat due to deforestation and human expansion has greatly reduced gorilla populations, and poaching for their meat or for the illegal pet trade has also had a significant impact. Additionally, gorillas are vulnerable to diseases such as Ebola, which have caused significant declines in some populations.
Some little-known facts about gorillas include that they are one of the closest living relatives to humans, sharing about 98% of the same DNA. They are also one of the most intelligent primates and have been observed using tools and exhibiting problem-solving skills. Additionally, gorillas have been known to show compassion towards other species, including humans, and have been observed caring for orphaned children who were lost in the jungle.
Overall, gorillas are fascinating and misunderstood animals that deserve our protection and appreciation. It is important that we learn more about their behavior and culture in order to better understand and conserve these gentle giants.