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Clash of Kings Facts

Clash of Kings

Clash of Kings (View larger version)

Photograph by National Geographic Society Image Collection / MICHAEL NICHOLS

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  • There are four species of great apes: gorillas, bonobos, orangutans and chimpanzees. Great apes have arms that are longer than their legs. Compared to monkeys, great apes are larger, do not have tails, walk upright longer and have more developed brains.

  • There are two subspecies of Eastern gorillas found in Africa: the mountain gorilla and the Grauer’s gorilla (previously the eastern lowland gorilla). Grauer’s gorillas are larger, while mountain gorillas have longer, thicker hair as an adaptation to their colder habitat. Both eastern subspecies are darker than the more brown-gray western gorillas.

  • Although shocking to humans, apes practice coprophagia, the act of eating their own feces. Some studies suggest that chimps and bonobos do this to retrieve hard, nutritious seeds.

  • Around 880 mountain gorillas are thought to be left in the world. They are found in only two populations - one exclusively in Uganda and another in an area shared by that country with Rwanda and the the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • Mature males in a gorilla group are called silverbacks. Immature males are called blackbacks. When male mountain gorillas reach adulthood around 13 years of age, they gain the silver coloring on their back.

  • A full-grown male mountain gorilla can weigh up to 400 pounds, while females reach only about half that weight. Adult gorillas can eat up to 60 pounds of vegetation in a single day!

  • Every evening, gorillas builds new night nests out of vines, leaves and branches to pad the ground beneath them.

  • In 2007, eight gorillas were shot to death in Virunga National Park, eliminating about 3% of that population.

  • The home range of mountain gorillas varies from 0.75 to 16 square miles (2 to 40 square kilometers).

  • Scientists identify the individual gorillas by the wrinkles on their noses, the patterns of which are called nose prints.

  • Poachers killed Titus’ father, uncle and younger brother when Titus was four years old. After a new silverback arrived and killed Titus’s younger sister, his mother and older sister left for a new group, abandoning Titus.

  • Titus has set two reproductive records for male gorillas known to science: he was the youngest male to sire offspring (11 years old) and sired more offspring than any other male.

  • Titus lived from 1974-2009, achieving an old age for a male mountain gorilla. His group was taken over by his own son Umushikirano (Rano) who drove Titus to exhaustion.

  • Gorillas are polygamous, the only great apes to be so. Usually the breeding groups consist of a dominant male, offspring and some females. Other males may attempt to mate with the females, while the alpha male attempts to protect his reproductive possibilities.

  • In 2009, a population of western lowland gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo was estimated at 200 individuals. A study showed that about 2 gorillas were being poached each week, which would decrease the population by half in a single year.

  • A focus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is to prevent poaching of the mountain gorillas by patrolling the habitat. The patrol also removes snares that have been set to catch other game but can injure the gorillas.

  • Humans aren’t the only apes who are afraid of snakes. Gorillas have also shown a fear of reptiles and a much greater fear of snakes than other reptiles like turtles.

  • The word “gorilla” is originally from the Greek word “gorillai”, which was used in an account of an African voyage to describe a group of hairy women.