Ivan Gorilla

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by Kathyadair
Last updated 6 years ago


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Ivan Gorilla


A silverback gorilla is the mature, experienced male leader of a group of mountain gorillas in the wild. Named for the silver saddles across his back, the silverback is responsible for the safety of his group. A group of gorillas, also called a “troop,” can contain from 5 to 30 gorillas. The silverback decides where the troop travels, where it forages for food, where it will rest and where it will sleep at night.

Silverbacks are very large. When they stand upright, they are from 5.5 to 6 feet tall and weigh as much as 350 pounds. Females typically are no taller than 5 feet and weigh as much as 200 pounds. The silverback's ears look small for its head. Males have a large bony crest on the tops of their skulls and back, which helps support their jaw muscles and teeth. The bony crest gives their heads a conical shape. Females have the same crest as well, but it is not as pronounced as it is in males. Silverbacks also are very hairy; they are the hairiest of all gorilla species. Their hair is long and thick, and helps to insulate them at high elevations. Their arms are shorter than the arms of lowland gorillas, and their legs are short in comparison to their arms. Silverbacks get their silver saddle at around 12 years old. Younger males who don't yet have the silver saddle are called "blackbacks."

They are very social animals, but within their own tight-knit, nomadic troops. They show each other affection, often hugging and playing with each other, much like humans do. Also like humans, mountain gorillas laugh and even throw things when they get angry. Although they typically are peaceful, younger males from other troops may challenge a silverback. To ward off unwanted gorillas, the silverback will beat his chest with cupped hands, scream and bare his teeth, and charge at the intruder. Silverbacks also may break off branches from a tree and shake them at intruding gorillas.

Less than 900 silverback gorillas remain. 4 live in national parks. The life span of a silverback gorilla is 40-50 years.

At African Wildlife Foundation, we’re working with the conservation efforts initiated by the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP). And together with Fauna & Flora International and World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, we’re helping the countries of DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda work together to protect and conserve the area and ensure the gorilla population will endure.

Silverback gorillas are endangered because of poaching. Silverback gorillas are being killed to primarily to supply high-end demand for meat in urban centers, where the consumption of ape meat is considered to be prestigious amongst the wealthy elite.


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