Why Bamboo Is The most desired Gorilla Food
Here is why bamboo is the most desired gorilla food; Mountain gorillas’ delicacy is bamboo despite there sheer size, which anyone can think, is worth to be supported by flesh.
Mountain gorillas do not eat meat and this has been confirmed by different researchers who have overtime observed there feeding habits.
Primates like the chimpanzees have been confirmed to eat flesh in times of severe scarcity, which is not the case with mountain gorillas.
The area occupied by mountain gorillas is mainly covered by thick natural vegetation zones but the most desired to feed on is on the bamboo zone of the mountains.
The bamboo zone occupies between 2400 meters to 3000 meters of the mountains. The taste of bamboo especially the shoots excites the mountain gorilla taste bags.
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On a normal day, an adult male mountain gorilla may eat about 300 pounds of vegetation, which may last it throughout night and day.
This is supposed to support there bodies throughout night and day. Mountain gorilla feeding time is important and this explains why tourists are allowed just one hours with the mountain gorillas during gorilla trekking.
When you locate the mountain gorillas, that one hour with them may be a destruction for them to collect more food to support there bodies.
In case they start feeding from handouts of humans, they may stop hunting and depend on humans, which is dangerous as time goes on.
Mountain gorillas do not feed on bamboo only, they love picking leaves inclusive of biting nettles that they carefully eat, soft stems, fruits, roots, bananas and others.
Sometimes they can supplement there diet with ants if found. To harvest the ants and termites they hold a stick dip it in a hole where ants are emerging from and eat those that have collected on the stick. They do it and many times as long as the ants are still popping out.
By the mountain gorillas eating this vegetation, they gain some immunity from diseases that would hurt them but this doesn’t mean you walk in with human infections.
Mountain gorilla are highly susceptible to human communicable infections like flu, Covid-19 and others because they have about 96% human DNA.
You must wear a face mask when you locate the mountain gorillas to reduce on any chance of spreading the corona Virus to the gorillas.
They are an endangered primate specie that has taken many years and money to conserve. Try not to spit on the vegetation during gorilla trekking because this is food for the gorillas. It is one of the way you may pass an infection to the already vulnerable mountain gorillas.
Sometimes veterinary gorilla doctors may come in to administer treatment to an injured or sick mountain gorilla or researchers may collect some dung samples to analyse the level of infection the gorillas may have.
This does not mean they are to treat every infection observed. The mountain gorillas have to search there own medication through eating foliage
Mountain Gorilla Feeding Habits As Observed By Naturalist Amy
Every species has basic needs food, water, security, social support, opportunities for reproduction. Food and water come first and mountain gorilla tracking derive both from the rich plant life of the Virungas.
The recent loss of 40 percent of the forest habitat of the Parc des Volcans raised deadly serious questions about the long term viability of the remaining 260 Virunga gorillas.
Recovery to the population levels of four hundred to five hundred gorillas recorded by George Schaller seemed out of the question.
Almost twenty years later, Schaller’s 1960 study of the mountain gorilla remained the only significant source of information on gorilla feeding ecology.
In addition to his comprehensive analysis of their behavior and social organization, Schaller documented the gorillas’ use of diverse habitats on Mt.Mikeno in the Congolese sector of the Virungas.
He also introduced the use of direct observation to record the foods consumed by gorillas. This was a great improvement on the indirect methods of dung and stomach content analysis that were considered the only feasible way to obtain information about wild animal diets at that time.
Yet despite Schaller’s promethean efforts, there was much more that we needed to know about the gorilla’s food and habitat requirements.
Was Mikeno representative of the park? How much did the gorillas actually consume of the different foods available to them? Did they have preference?
If so, were choices based on quality or availability? Ultimately, could the now diminished forest meet their long term needs?
ONE DAY IN JUNE, as our first long rainy season approached its end, hearing a noise, she looked away to see who was moving through the thick under growth nearby.
She had not yet seen all members of group 5 and wanted to complete her daily count. Reassured that patsy and Muraha were accounted for, she turned to find that Beethoven had moved silently behind her, where he was reaching for a plastic bag she stuffed with Gallium.
Amy reached as well, but lost the race. Beethoven grabbed the bag, stutters a few feet away, and sat down with a confident look.
As Amy watched in bemused shock, he reached into the bag and began to cram folded “wedges’” of Gallium into his maw, chewing steadily until he finished his meals.
Dropping the bag by his side, he then nimbly removed a few strands of the clinging vine from his hairy forearm and ambled off to nap.
For Beethoven, this was a déjà dinner. For Amy it was lost data. As part of her research,, she would monitor one group member for five hours almost every day.
During that time she recorded everything the individual ate, what was within reach but was not eaten, and what other gorillas within view were eating.
She had devised a simple method a simple method to determine quantities of food consumed replicating each individual’s feeding by sitting nearby and gathering equal quantities whatever was being consumed.
When the feeding was over, Amy’s duplicate meal was bagged, brought back to our cabin to be weighed, then dried for later nutritional analysis. She had any qualms about choosing foods of similar quality to those eaten by the gorillas; Beethoven certainly dispelled them on the day of the great gallium heist.
Within a few months, the gorillas of group 5 completely tolerated Amy’s almost constant presence. Every other day, she would leave the cabin at the break of dawn and hurry off alone to catch the group before it began feeding on rainy days, she would often find the entire group still in bed.
Most other mornings she might find several adults still lounging sleepy-eyed in their night nests, provoking nothing more than a few belch vocalizations.
Amy returns the two tone sound, like a deep clearing of the throat, to acknowledge her presence. The young gorillas were usually already up and active, waiting for their parents like eager children on Christmas morning.
After the last adult rolled out of bed, a decision would be made in silence and the group would move off behind either Beethoven or an older female like Effie.
At this point, Amy would move close to her focal animal and stay near that individual thought the morning.
On alternate days, when she did five hour afternoon focal as intensive observation periods were called, she would catch up with the group in late morning and then stay until their last feeding session ended and they began to make their nights nests.
Amy’s discovery that the gorillas were more at ease when she stayed close to them opened a new window on the world of gorilla feeding ecology and behavior.
From three to six feet away, every thorn on a thistle, every stinging hair on a nettle, is clearly visible. These were important foods for the gorillas, though ones they treated with respect.
The long leaf of a thistle plant provided a natural sheath into which the gorillas would carefully fold the spikes along the leaf’s edge.
The gorillas then strategically placed this packet in the side of the mouth and ground it under the crushing power of their molars.
Nettles received similar treatment, though in this case the gorillas would slide under sides of two fingers up the stalk, collecting all the leaves in a bundle with the irritating surfaces pressed against each other and away from their skin.
Then they twisted off this turf and consumed it with the stinging hairs aligned away from the point of entry to the mouth.
Gorillas apparently tolerated the natural defenses of these two plants because of their combined nutritional and high water content.
Only wild celery contained more liquid, which would sometimes run down the gorillas chins as they chewed noisily on the hearty stalks.
Celery was also the most palatable of these plants to our tastes, though we had to be terribly thirsty to tolerate the bitter after taste of its young stems.
Amy sampled nearly all of the gorilla’s foods and came to especially appreciate mature celery as a midday drink substitute.
Bamboo was the gorilla’s most desired food. During the five months of the year when young shoots were in season, group 5 was never far from the lower elevation zone near the park border, where bamboo flourished.
Here the gorillas spread out in a fan formation to increase their odds of finding the randomly located sprouts. As individuals discovered the three-to four-foot pointed shoots, they first looked over their shoulders for competitors, and then sat to enjoy the delicacy in privacy.
After pulling the full shoot from the ground, they carefully unwrapped the pepper like sheaths and noisily devoured the succulent core.
As they moved on, neat circular piles of spiral wrappings were left in their wake, helping Amy to track the group across the generally bare terrain beneath the full cover of bamboo.
This canopy was broken in some places and bamboo mixed with other plants. One plant that broke in some places and bamboo mixed with other plants. One plant that thrived under these conditions was Droguetia, a vine covered with one to-two inch-long leaves.
The gorillas had a fondness for Droguetia, especially in combination with bamboo. Later analyses would reveal that this was not just a taste preference but a powerful form of nutritional complementarily.
Are Mountain Gorillas Dangerous Primates
Mountain gorillas are some of the most serene primates but the first glance at them is adrenaline stimulating. Many films have portrayed them as violent animals but this is opposite of the reality.
When you look into there dark brown eyes, they are actually shy. We do not advise you to stare into there eyes but you can do it stealthily.
So far no one has ever been attacked and violently killed by the mountain gorillas because they are not aggressive.
In case they get angry, mountain gorillas beat there chests, hoot, pull vines around them, walk on one foot just to display there anger.
Every trekker is advised during briefing to avoid provoking the mountain gorillas to the extent of causing such behavior.
The mountain gorillas respect family a lot especially the autonomy of the dominant silverback so do not act in a behavior that can cause him to command the entire family to walk into hiding.
He has the responsibility of defending the entire family and fights to the last breathe to keep everyone in his family safe.
Just avoid touching there infants because these are the favorites of almost everyone in the family. Some of the curious babies may walk over to touch a few of your belongings but do not be violent with them because this may be the spark of a rampage.
Even on the way to find the gorillas, avoid making loud noise as the gorillas sometimes have a spy network that alerts the rest about your presence in the forest. When you behave inappropriately, the spy team may inform the dominant silverback and you find an unwelcoming reception.
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