What is a silverback mountain gorilla?

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What is a silverback mountain gorilla?

What is a silverback mountain gorilla?

A silverback mountain gorilla is an adult male easily distinguished by the swathe of silver hair on its back and this is typically a sign of maturity, they are famed for displays of aggression and dominance including whooping, charging, chest-beating, tree slapping, and less commonly, physical duels.

A typical silverback weighs 430 pounds (195 kg) and stands 5 feet (1.5m) tall. Silverbacks are incredibly strong and can lift over 500kg of dead weight. That’s rough twice as much as a well-trained weightlifter. In the wild, a silverback uses its immense strength to fall trees in order to reach its fruits. This makes mountain gorillas a keystone species in Africa

A male gorilla matures into a silverback at around twelve to fifteen years. Although there can be multiple silverbacks within a family, there is always one male that dominates over the family (except in rare instances of matriarch-led troops when the male dies of natural death).

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. This helps prevent harassment from other males and reduces the threat of hostility from non-related females encountered through migration.

Blackbacks and Subordinate Silverbacks

The ultimate goal of all silverbacks is to maximize chances of reproductive success by becoming dominant. A black back 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.

How long do Mountain gorillas live in the wild?

In the wild, gorillas can live to over 40 years old, Gorillas are classed as infants until they reach around three-and-a-half years old, and adults from around 8 years. Males between 8-12 years are called ‘blackbacks’ and from 12-15 they then become silverbacks.


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