Mountain gorillas are in grave danger of becoming extinct, with only 1,000 of these incredible creatures left on Earth.
Of those 1,000 primates, approximately 400 of them live in Uganda’s Bwindi National Park, in 10 family groups. The territory also extends to a network of parks in the Virunga Massif mountains, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
It was in Bwindi Park where the Ugandan Wildlife Service have declared a baby boom following five births, all to different families, within a six week period.
“The Rushegura gorilla family welcomes another bouncing cute baby gorilla from Adult female Ruterana increasing the family membership to 18,” read a Tweet from the park on Monday.
Gorilla Baby Boom in Bwindi -Fifth new baby in just 6 weeks! The Rushegura gorilla family welcomes another bouncing cute baby gorilla from Adult female Ruterana increasing the family membership to 18. The birth takes the tally of new births in the forest to 5 in just six weeks! pic.twitter.com/bQbZDG5oOZ
— Uganda Wildlife (@ugwildlife) September 1, 2020
Since January this year there have been seven births in total. This compares favorably to 2019’s tally of just three baby gorillas.
Like humans, gorilla mothers carry their young for eight to nine months before giving birth.
Could lockdown been the reason behind the baby gorillas?
Its not entirely clear what is behind the spate of births. The fact that the park has been closed to visitors since March due to the coronavirus pandemic could well be a factor.
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There is a concern that the virus could also affect the gorillas as their DNA is so similar to that of humans’ – 98.3% of our genetic code is shared.
The park is however slowly bringing small groups of visitors back, with precautionary measures in place.
Poaching is another major threat and just two months ago, a man was sentenced to 11 years in prison after killing a silverback gorilla named Rafiki.
Gorillas are predominantly herbivorous creatures and are the largest living primates. They inhabit forest regions in central Sub-Saharan Africa.
They are known to show human-like behavior – such as laughter and sadness.
Image credit: Ugandan Wildlife Service