What are Silverback Gorillas?

If you have gone on a gorilla trek and you haven’t seen a silverback gorilla, then you haven’t experienced these great apes. The silverback gorilla is a must see for visitors who take expeditions into the tropical rain forests of East and Central Africa.

The silver back is the name given to the adult male gorilla.  Like the way humans grow grey hair, the gorillas grow silver hair on their backs and thus the name. Silver backs are dominant males over 12 years old with a patch of silvery fur running across their backs and hips. They are the strongest and most powerful in their groups and making all the decisions. Males under 12 years can breed but do not have the silver back and this develops after the group and started anther clan. This means that most male gorillas will at one day become a silverback.

A dominant Silver back leads the group of other males, females and young in their daily activities such as eating and sleeping. They spend the morning and evening hours actively searching for food while midday is spent playing and resting. Every evening, they make their own nests before going to sleep.

More so, they can become aggressive towards one another as the dominant males will beat their chest, scream, roar and bark while standing upright in a show of power. Like any other gorilla, silver backs are known for being intelligent animals. In the jungle, they communicate through vocalization, body language, facial expressions and gestures.

In addition to the above, they are herbivores whereby they feed on a variety of roots, plants, herbs, fruit, bamboo, tree bark and sometimes insects. They can easily eat up to 66 pound of food per day. In the wild, they can live from 40- 50 years and slightly longer in captivity.

Adult male Gorillas are approximately six times as strong as a man. Standing at up to 6 feet tall (182 cm) with arms that extend up to 8 feet (243 cm) wide, Gorillas are the largest living primates. They live in groups or communities with a clearly defined social structure.

The fact that there are roughly 700 Silverbacks left in existence today reflects what humans have done to the population. When we continually cut down trees where gorillas live, we are slowly destroying their habitat which is one of the reasons why they have become an endangered animal. Poachers who capture and kill these animals to make a profit are also contributing to their decline. If aggressive action is not taken to preserve Gorillas and their habitat, kids of future generations may never know what its like to see a real Gorilla.

Humans and gorillas have a very similar genetic makeup. These close relatives share 98% of our DNA. Would you like to see the silverback gorillas? Why not take a trip into the wild and meet the mountain gorilla or the Eastern Lowland Gorilla.

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