Facts About Silverback Gorillas

Updated November 21, 2016

The silver back gorilla is also referred to as the mountain gorilla. Its scientific name is Gorilla beringei beringei, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. This species of gorilla was not even known to exist until 1902. Approximately 650 silver back gorillas exist in the world.


Mountain gorillas have long black hair and have more hair than other subspecies of gorilla such as the western lowland gorillas. Their thick, shaggy coats help to keep them warm in cold climates. Adult male mountain gorillas are called silver backs because of the silver saddle of hair on their backs.


Male silver back gorillas average up to six feet tall while females average up to five feet tall. Males weigh approximately 159 Kilogram while females weigh approximately 97.5 Kilogram. The mountain gorilla has a stocky build, with a broad chest, long, muscular arms and wide feet and hands.


There are two populations of silver back gorilla remaining within four national parks in Africa. One population of roughly 340 mountain gorillas lives within the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The other population of approximately 380 mountain gorillas lives within a mountainous region knows as the Virungas. The three national parks within this region are called Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park.


Generally, silver back gorillas are gentle and shy despite their strength and power. Mountain gorillas normally live in groups averaging from 2 to 40 gorillas per group. An adult silver back male acts as the alpha leader and all gorillas in the group answer to him. The chief leader silver back delegates where to eat, where to find food and where to sleep. The leader protects the group from predators and silver backs from other groups. Mountain gorillas are primarily herbivores.


When a group is attacked by predators such as humans, leopards or other gorillas, the silver back male will protect the group to the extent of sacrificing his own life.

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