Mountain Gorillas - Endangered Primates in Eastern Africa
Mountain gorillas are one of the most endangered animals in the world. Scientists think that there are only about 600 mountain gorillas left. They live in the higher regions of the rain forests in Rwanda, Uganda and Congo.
Mountain gorillas are strong, with long muscular arms and a big chest. They have thick black hair that protects them from the cold in high mountain regions. A large male gorilla may reach a height of almost 2 metres and a weigh about 200 kilograms.
Although they are very strong mountain gorillas are shy animals. They normally don’t attack humans. Male gorillas lead groups of up to 40 individuals. These leaders are called silverbacks because of the gray hair they get when they grow old. The silverback protects the group, decides where to eat, rest and sleep.
Female mountain gorillas have few babies. During the 40 to 50 years that a female lives she gives birth to two to six babies. The first baby is born at about eight or ten. She then has further babies every three to four years. In most cases single gorillas are born, in rare occasions she gives birth to twins. Babies ride on their mother’s back until they are two or three years old.
While mountain gorillas wander around during the daytime they look for safe places to sleep at night. Lighter ones sleep in trees while heavier mountain gorillas nest on the ground.
Mountain gorillas are primarily plant eaters. They need about 30 kilograms of vegetation every day to survive. They also eat insects and worms but rarely drink water because they have enough moisture in the plants.
Life for mountain gorillas, however, is not peaceful. They are endangered in many ways. More and more people are moving to live in the rain forests. There they burn down trees to get more farmland, build roads and settlements. The habitat of mountain gorillas is getting smaller and smaller.
Gorillas are also threatened by poachers, who sell babies to zoos or kill them for their meat.
Because the animals are similar to humans, locals and tourists often spread diseases when they get into contact with them.
Protecting the mountain gorillas is difficult because there are wars and other conflicts going on in these countries. Rebels and government soldiers often hide in the rain forests where the gorillas live.
Still many Africans are working hard to protect mountain gorillas. The African Wildlife Foundation has established a conservation program to save the last mountain gorillas.
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- although = while
- chest = the front part of your body between your neck and your stomach
- conservation = the protection of something
- disease = illness
- endangered = in danger of dying out
- establish = set up, create
- female = connected to a woman
- habitat = the natural home of a plant or animal
- height = how tall something is
- individual = single animal
- locals = people who live in the area
- male = connected to a man
- moisture =water that is in the air or in plants or trees
- muscular = powerful, with a lot of muscles
- occasion = time, event
- poacher = someone who catches or shoots animals illegally, without permission
- primarily = mainly, mostly
- protect = defend, guard
- rare =not very often
- rebel = person or soldier who fights against the government
- settlement = towns and villages
- shy = nervous when you or get into contact with meet other people or animals
- similar = like
- single gorillas = one at a time
- spread = to pass on to others
- survive = to live, not to die
- threaten = to be in danger
- wander = walk around
- weigh = how heavy something is