Mountain Gorilla

Mountain Gorilla Gentle Giant

Mountain Gorilla illustrated by Ravenari


Gentle giant. Cloud forest magic. Avoiding violence. Searching for peace and stability. A close-knit family. Wisdom. Protecting your loved ones at any cost. Craving closeness. Dignity and honour. Lead with anchored strength. Ecosystem protector. Physical touch and comfort. Forest regeneration. Feeling under threat. Accepting great responsibility.


The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is a large, endangered primate, one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla, found in the Virunga volcanic mountains and cloud forests of Central Africa, and in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

The mountain gorilla is primarily diurnal, terrestrial, and walks on four legs by knuckle-walking. It will climb into fruiting trees, and can run on two legs when necessary. Most of its time is spent foraging and eating, with breaks to rest through the day. They are mainly herbivores, eating leaves, shoots, stems, bark, roots, flowers and fruits. They will also take small invertebrates. Their eating habits actively help forests regenerate. They make a new nest of vegetation to sleep in, every evening, and leave them in the mornings except when it is cold and overcast. It is often cloudy, misty and cold where they live. No two gorillas have the same nose, which are used to help with identification. They have an opposable big toe, which helps with grasping. Adult males are called silverbacks, due to the saddle of grey-silver hair on their back that develops with age.

Mountain gorillas live in generally stable, complex social groups (troops) made up of long-term bonds between adults. Infanticide is rare. They’re usually non-territorial, and the silverback will defend his group, rather than the boundaries of a territory, sometimes to the point of giving up his life, he will also care for abandoned offspring if a mother dies or leaves. The sexes of the groups can vary, though most groups have a dominant, undisputed male leader and a number of females. When gorillas leave their natal groups, the process takes time, and usually occurs when they are 8 to 10 years old.

They are usually gentle and shy, despite their strength and power. However, male silverbacks can fight to the death, although this is rare, with ritualised threat displays and charging preferred. Mutual grooming tends to occur during rest periods, though other primates engage with it more often. Distinct vocalisation patterns assist with communicating in dense cloud forests. They tend to avoid water, do not like heavy rain and many reptiles and insects.

Mountain gorillas are often harmed or killed by poachers’ snares intended for other animals, and will be killed for body parts purchased by collectors. Some silverback gorillas are experienced in removing poaching snares from other gorillas. Infants can be abducted and sold to zoos, researchers and the pet trade. They are Endangered and furthered threatened by habitat loss, disease (especially from human tourists), and war.