Mountain gorilla produces twins near Uganda's border

By John Odyek

Females can give birth after every two to three years giving birth to four to six off-springs through their lifetime.

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Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has clarified that a mountain gorilla that produced a set of twins early this week was based in Virunga National Park near Uganda's borders, about two kilometers into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There was initial excitement that the gorilla could have given birth in Uganda but the UWA officials have confirmed that the gorilla was based in the DRC although they roam freely but carefully across borders. In 1979 UNESCO designated the Virunga Park as a World Heritage Site with status of 'endangered'.

"We do not have a birth in our national parks. It was in Virunga," Dr Andrew Seguya, executive director UWA said.

Seguya was optimistic that the birth in the neighbourhood might signal a similar occurrence in Uganda in this season.

UWA officials said the gorillas have no specific mating season and babies are born throughout the year.  The males begin breeding at around 15 years while the females start giving birth between 10 and 12 years.  

Females can give birth after every two to three years giving birth to four to six off-springs through their lifetime. Mountain gorillas live in groups which differ in size from two to 40 but they are commonly in groups of 10.  

Males leave their group at about 11 years of age, while a little over half of the females will leave their group. Mountain gorillas communicate through sounds like roars, grunts and shouts, and 25 sounds currently have been documented by researchers.

There are about 786 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world with approximately half of them staying in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest plus the Mgahinga Gorilla Park in Uganda.

Mgahinga Gorilla Park is a stunning park and a component of the Virunga chain of towering volcanoes that extend into the DRC and Rwanda, and then in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest supports the hugest Population of Mountain Gorilla.  

The mountain gorillas move up the higher altitude of the mountain and feed on the vegetation.  They eat large quantities of flowers, leaves, fruit, roots, bamboo and shoots in season.  The adults can consume up to 34 kilograms each day.

The day of a mountain gorilla starts at 6:00am up to 6:00pm with a snooze around lunch time.  The gorillas move every day to different locations where they make nests using twigs plus leaves and spend their night

Visitors into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest often inquire if mountain gorillas are dangerous.  Officials from UWA said although the gorillas are dominant and very strong, they are gentle and shy. UWA said the mountain gorillas which visitors see in Uganda have been habituated to people and the habitation process takes close to 2 years.  

Some conservationist have been against the idea of visiting mountain gorillas as it is done today, however those that support visiting the gorillas argue that the money collected has supported the survival of this endangered species and seen their number increase over the recent years.

While mountain gorillas are threatened they do attack so as to protect their very own.  When different mountain gorilla groups meet, there is a fight between the leader silverbacks to death.  Recently two silverbacks fought within Democratic Republic of Congo and the rangers had to intervene.

Gorilla permits within Rwanda were recently increased up to $750 per individual and then in Uganda they go each for $600. The permit offers you one hour with the mountain gorillas in a group of eight people.