Silverback Gorillas – Facts, Weight, Strength, Lifespan & Habitat

All about Silverback gorillas – Facts, Weight, Strength, Lifespan, and habitat. Amazing things you should know about silverback mountain gorillas.

Rwanda avails you the opportunity to visit the most highlighted by many international travel magazines, if you are thinking about visiting Rwanda you are preparing yourself for an all-around educational and enriching experience in this beautiful country! Although trekking with the Gorilla may undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip, Rwanda is also home to rare, beautiful, unique, and endangered species of animals that cannot be found anywhere else in this world!! Combined with the stunning views of volcanoes, hills, plains, and rain forests; the warm and friendly smiles from the local people and the opportunity to participate in day-to-day local traditions, culture, activities, and community development, Rwanda promises to be a destination you will NOT soon forget!!! But today let’s talk about the mountain gorilla’s chef of the family known as SILVERBACK.

Silverback Gorillas are the largest primates on earth. After bonobos and chimpanzees, gorillas are the closest relatives to humans (Their DNA is about 98% similar to that of humans

Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) silverback, Rwanda

Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) silverback, Rwanda

What is Silverback Gorilla?  Size, height, and life expectancy

Gorillas live in groups or families led by a Silverback. Silverback gorilla doesn’t refer to a particular species of gorilla but a mature male gorilla. Silverback gorillas are distinguished by a grayish-white hairline around the back and shoulders. A male gorilla that is too old to be a juvenile but too young to be a silverback is referred to as a blackback. A silverback is much larger than a female. Compared to a female, a silverback gorilla has a larger head, and body and can weigh up to 270 kilograms. A male gorilla becomes an adult at about 8 years of age. This is the time most leave the group to leave alone or join other males. At this point, they are still referred to as Blackbacks. It is only when they become fully grown (at about 12 to 13 years of age) that they become silverbacks. This is also the time when the hair down their back and across the shoulders becomes whitish or greyish in color.

A mature and lone blackback or silverback will live close to a particular group and attempt to dethrone the dominant silverback as soon as he is strong enough. If he fails to dethrone a leader of a particular gorilla family, he will attempt to steal females from that group to form his own.

Whereas it is possible to find several silverback gorillas in a group, there is only one dominant silverback. The dominant silverback is the leader of the group and has absolute authority. He dictates what is to be done and when. He determines when to eat, and rest and is entitled to mate with all the females in the group. Gorilla mating is often initiated by the female upon reaching maturity. The dominant silverback controls a group containing between 5 to 35 individuals. A gorilla group contains several females, adolescents/juveniles, infants, and some adult males. Females leave the group upon reaching maturity to avoid mating with the father.

Blackbacks and Subordinate Silverbacks

The ultimate goal of all silverbacks is to maximize chances of reproductive success by becoming dominant. A blackback is mature sexually but not physically strong enough to challenge for dominance. Once a male develops into a silverback he may then form a coalition with the dominant silverback or challenge for control of the troop.

Mountain Blackbacks gorilla in Volcanoes National Park

Mountain Blackbacks gorilla in Volcanoes National Park

The Silverback Gorilla – Female Relationship

Mature females regularly migrate between families to improve reproductive chances and avoid inbreeding. No matter the family a female belongs to, she will strive to have close contact and a strong bond with the dominant silverback gorilla. This helps prevent harassment from other males and reduces the threat of hostility from non-related females encountered through migration.

The Silverback Gorilla affection

The Silverback Gorilla’s affection

The strong point of a silverback gorilla?

A fully grown silverback gorilla is about twice the weight of an adult man. They are over 9 times stronger than an adult male. Their body weight and incredible strength are all because of a higher ratio of muscle mass.

Would a strong adult male have a chance against a silverback in a duel?

Whereas no fight has been recorded between an adult male and a silverback gorilla, it is obvious who the winner will be. An angry silverback would beat the man to a pulp.

Are silverback gorillas violent?

He is always peaceful and rarely uses force. A silverback gorilla only becomes aggressive when it encounters a threat or intruders, or if it wants to assert dominance. Intruders can mean males from other groups, stubborn members of his group, animals like leopards, or humans visiting a group that is not habituated. When a silverback gorilla recognizes a threat or silverback from another group, he will first attempt to warn off the intruder. He does this by standing up while drumming up his chest.

If the above action doesn’t work, he will tear up and through plants at the intruder while making a deafening sound. The silverback will then make a mock attack using all four legs. If all this doesn’t work and the threat or intruder hasn’t yet got the message, the silverback will attack directly and deliver a blow with the hands or teeth. A silverback gorilla will defend his group and especially infants to death. It is one reason why poachers and pet traders target the silverback if they wish to capture an infant.

What do silverback gorillas eat?

Silverback gorillas in general eat mainly plants. This can consist of fruits, shoots, and leaves. They also love termites, ants, and certain insects. The mountain gorilla silverback diet is slightly different. It consists of mainly stems and leaves. They may also feed on fungi, flowers, and bark. The season (rainy or dry) determines which kind of food is prevalent. In general mountain gorillas live a life of plenty because they are exposed to a greater variety of vegetation than the other gorilla sub-species. Isn’t strange that such massive and strong creatures do not eat meat?

How to see silverback gorillas in Africa?

In order to see silverback gorillas in the wild, you have to prepare to visit Africa. Many tour companies offer amazing tours to visit Silverback gorillas. You must be prepared to acquire a gorilla permit and also plan for other costs of gorilla trekking like transport, accommodation, and meals The best places to see gorillas are in  Volcanoes National Park, Bwindi National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. For once in lifetime experience book with   you won’t regret choosing them.