Reproduction in mountain gorillas
Mountain gorillas are the only sub specie of gorilla that is increasing in population and definitely that means they are reproducing more, however, what is reproduction in mountain gorillas like?
Just like with any other species, reproduction in gorillas is a key factor to their totals and the rate at which they reproduce can lead to either an increase or decline. Reproduction alone or giving birth is a key factor however, not the only factor since the gorillas have to survive in conditions with no or few threats to ensure that they live to reach their estimated lifespan which is 40 years.
Mountain gorilla reproduction behavior is similar to that of other hominids. Research shows that all the 4 sub species of gorillas share many similarities to each other.
Though slightly affected by the gorilla sub species, the estrous cycle is 28/30-33 days. This happens after the first time a female gorilla becomes sexually. This is normally from the age of 10 – 12 years. Male gorillas become sexually active at a later age which is between 11-13 years of age.
Though generally sexually active by 10 years, a female gorilla can have her first ovulatory cycle even at the age of sixth year. However, when this happens, they still cannot start breeding until they are ten years or even older.
After a female gorilla’s first ovulatory cycle, the gorilla has to wait for at least a period of two years to breed or give birth to an infant. This means if the first ovulatory cycle is at 10 then the female gorilla can breed at 12 years of age.
Mating in Gorillas- Reproduction in mountain gorillas
To reproduce, gorillas mate that is a male and sexually active female. When the female is ready to mate, the male gorilla can easily notice her signs of being on heat though they are not as evident in other apes and a person on a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda or Rwanda many not be able to notice.
If the female wants to mate she isolates herself from the group or family and embarks on a search for a sexual partner. To attract the male gorilla, a female will use body movements that are mainly leisurely walks to the male. She does this with an uninterrupted eye contact as she waits for the male to take action. If no action is taken by the male gorilla she can even get closer and touch the male to make him notice of her insinuations.
Trying all of these, if all attempts don’t yield results for her by attracting the male, she will most probably hit the ground as a final attempt. This in most cases calls the attention of the silverback gorilla.
When the male takes the first attempt to insinuate a female to mating, he attracts her by getting closer, touching her and emitting sounds.
Mating in gorillas has no season and it can happen at any time of the year. Gorillas copulate on the ground and in rare cases recorded mating face to face something that was only known to be in humans and bonobos.
How often do gorillas reproduce? – Reproduction in mountain gorillas
Gorillas in many cases give birth to a single baby and twin births occur in rare occasions. After copulation and fertilization, the gestation period of a female gorilla lasts about 8.5 months.
Births usually occur after 4 years with in most cases a single birth each time. After birth, its so unfortunate that 38-40 percent of the infants die at some point of age during their first three years of life.
Thanks to the strong conservation efforts, many births are being taken good care of and infant mortality isn’t so high in the mountain gorillas.
Either during a Uganda gorilla safari or Rwanda gorilla tour, witnessing a gorilla birth could be a happening that paints a lifetime memory. Tailoring a gorilla safari together with a long Uganda wildlife safari or any other safari in Kenya, Tanzania tour or Rwanda safari is a perfect way of exploring the African wilderness.
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