Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) | WWF

Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

Did you know?

  • Mountain gorillas live on the ground more than any other non-human primate species.
  • They are afraid of water and will cross streams only if they can do so without getting wet (i.e. crossing over fallen logs).
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of the 2 subspecies of the Eastern gorilla.

Physical Description

  • On average males weigh 160kg and adult females 98kg.
  • It has longer and darker hair than other gorilla species, allowing it to live in hot or cold weather.
  • Adult males are called silverbacks because a saddle of gray or silver-colored hair develops on their backs with age.
  • The mountain gorilla has longer hair, jaws and teeth than the lowland subspecies, but slightly shorter arms.


In 1902, the German explorer Oscar von Beringe became the first non-African to encounter the mountain gorilla. In the ensuing century, a combination of hunting and habitat destruction has driven this very rare primate to the verge of extinction.

Mountain Gorilla Conservation

But for the intervention and dedication of a handful of people, the mountain gorilla would surely already be extinct. The work of conservationists focused global attention on the plight of gorillas. In order to combat this and other threats, WWF, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) set up the International Gorilla Conservation Program (IGCP) in 1991. Over the past 10 years, the IGCP, together with local communities and park authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, have worked to protect and effectively manage the habitat and the gorilla population, while taking into account the needs of the local population.

Approximately 700 mountain gorillas currently exist in the wild. It is listed as critically endangered by IUCN.
	© WWF / Martin Harvey
Mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei), Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
© WWF / Martin Harvey



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