Mountain gorillas are the largest living primates

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Mountain Gorilla

Conservation Status:

Critically Endangered

  • Less than 1,000 remain today
  • Live in 4 national parks
  • Lifespan of 40-50 years

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Gorilla beringei beringei


Males: Up to 400 lbs.
Females: 215 lbs


Males: up to 6-ft. tall
Females: up to 5-ft. tall

Life span

40 to 50 years


Dense forest, rain forest




About 8.5 months


Predominately humans, occasionally leopards


Where do mountain gorillas live?

The world’s remaining mountain gorillas live in three countries spanning four national parks—Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park. 

Tags: DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, West/Central Africa, Virunga View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are mountain gorillas?

As one of the great apes, mountain gorillas are the largest of the living primates. They have muscular arms, a massive chest, and broad hands and feet. Their thick black hair helps insulate them from cold weather.

Behavior & Diet

The silverback protects what matters most.

Mountain gorillas live in groups of two to 40 led by the silverback, a dominant male that is the chief leader and protector. Almost 10 times stronger than the biggest American football players, a silverback protects its group from attacks by humans, leopards, or other gorillas—even if it means sacrificing his own life.

Mountain gorilla infants develop twice as fast as humans.

The female mountain gorilla usually gives birth when she turns 10 and has offspring every four or more years. Newborns are weak and weigh only about 4 pounds. Their first movements are awkward, like a human infant, but they develop almost twice as fast. Infants nurse and are gradually weaned after they turn 3 years old, when they are more independent.

Mountain gorillas are primarily herbivores.

Even though they eat like football players, their diet is made up of more than 100 different species of plants. And, they rarely need to drink since they get most of their water from those plants.


  • One Tough Little Gorilla
  • Gorilla Climbing
  • Mountain Gorilla Craig R Sholley
  • Mountain Gorilla Craig R. Sholley
  • Mountain gorilla Craig R. Sholley
  • Mountain Gorilla IGCP
  • Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Craig R. Sholley
  • Bwindi Census Anna Behm Masozera IGCP
  • Bwindi Census Anna Behm Masozera IGCP

Humans are pushing the mountain gorillas out of the wild and into extinction.

There are currently less than 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild. The biggest threats to these critically endangered great apes come from deforestation and the region’s growing population.

The forest where mountain gorillas live is fertile and rich in biodiversity. This has made it one of the most populated regions in Africa, with 85% of the population making its living by growing food on the land. As people move closer to where gorillas live, they also bring the risk of spreading human diseases to gorillas such as the flu, pneumonia, and even ebola.

A future marred by conflict.

War in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resulted in more than five million lives lost since 1998. The mountain gorillas are caught in the middle of this social and economic crisis.

The locals depend on the natural resources and wildlife-based tourism for their welfare. So, the future of mountain gorillas will be closely linked with the peace and prosperity through the land.


Our solutions to saving the mountain gorillas from extinction:

  • Use tourism to benefit mountain gorillas.

    AWF works with locals to help both gorillas and the community.  Through partnerships with private operators and communities, we have designed and constructed tourism lodges benefitting the mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda — and their respective communities. The Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, in the foothills of the Virunga Mountains, and Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, outside of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, are community-owned tourist lodges that benefit the local people who share their backyard with gorillas by generating income through tourism. It’s efforts like these that will continue to help develop livelihood strategies that complement conservation.


Will you show the mountain gorilla your support?

With your support, we can continue to conserve this critically endangered ape population by working with rangers in Virunga and engaging communities in conservation tourism. Donate today to ensure that the survival of the mountain gorilla for future generations.

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  • Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Craig R. Sholley
    Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge
    International tourism put to work for mountain gorillas

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  • Student Anna Behm_Masozera IGCP
    Student Gorilla Trek
    Facilitating conservation education through interaction with wildlife

    Wildlife permits are too expensive for native Rwandans. 

    Despite living so close to the magnificent mountain gorilla, many Rwandans lack the ability to fully engage...

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  • Bwindi Census Anna Behm Masozera IGCP
    Bwindi Mountain Gorilla Census
    Cataloging the critically endangered mountain gorilla

    Accurate population numbers are needed for gorilla conservation. 

    The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda is home to approximately half of the world’s remaining...

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