Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Are Mountain Gorillas Becoming Extinct?

Humans and gorillas are 98% genetically identical. You may ask or not know, "Why is this important?" Its important to understand that gorillas are much like us both socially, and genetically. 

Mountain gorillas are the largest of all primates. They have long arms, massive chests, and very large hands and feet. They are the hairiest gorillas out of all gorillas, they have thick black hair which keeps them warm when they nest in the high elevations of the jungle canopies. Gorillas are very strong, but docile. They will become hostile when a predator or a human enters their territory.

There are only 786 mountain gorillas left in the world. Almost all of them live in four separate national parks in Africa. Mountain gorillas live in groups. Any group can have from two, to forty gorillas in at at a time. These groups are led by the alfa-male, also known as the silverback. They are called silverbacks because when they become adults in the gorilla community, they grow gray hairs on their backs. These males protect the groups from danger and make all of the group's decisions. 

The reasons mountain gorillas are becoming extinct are the destruction of their homes and poaching. Forest clearing destroys all of their food, and homes that the make in the trees. Poaching is a gigantic threat to the mountain gorilla. People will slaughter families to capture a baby gorilla to sell to zoos. People kill them to skin their hair to create fur coats,, boots, hand bags, and more. Some will remove the hands, heads, and feet to keep as trophies. Another reason why these creatures are becoming extinct is because they have an extremely low rate of reproduction. They are not replacing the elder gorillas, when they die, with new baby gorillas.


  1. Wow this is something that is kinda really serious. If people know that the gorillas habitat and food is being destroyed why dont they do something about it? I mean they can send people out to the mountains and protect the gorillas from poachers. They could possibly put cameras up around the forest where they gorillas live the most or something. People could do anything to help keep the gorillas around,but they wont.

  2. I didn't know that there are only 746 left in the world. That's really small and one would think something more would be done for a creature so low in population.

  3. They put people out to stop poaching, but many poachers are slipping through the cracks of the security and some of the men who watch the animals are getting a cut of the poachers payroll after they sell everything. Its hard to do anything, the only real way is to completely block off the national parks by using fences with motion detected lights.

  4. Ashlee, maybe if we did the opposite and didn't watch them as much they would reproduce more? Not many people want an audience. I agree we should protect them, but if they're 98% like humans they need their privacy.

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