Silverback Profile Silverback Bob Mountain


Silverback Sleeping Silverback Rising Silverback Grooming

To Orwell Today,

That silverback you have pictures of from the Hirwa group looks enormous, do you know how much he weighs around? Also do you have more pictures of him or video footage and if so can you send me something. I like gorillas a great deal especially the big male silverbacks.

Please let me know, thanks!
Bill Othman

Greetings Bill,

Sorry but I don't have any better photos of that Hirwa silverback than the ones I took of the visit to RWANDA'S RARE GORILLAS.

I don't know how much he weighs (maybe twice that of my husband, thus over 400 pounds?).

I've read (in the following book) that males (silverbacks) can weigh as much as 500 pounds.

Gorilla Book

Gorillas are the largest primates. An adult female gorilla will usually weigh between 154 and 265 pounds. An adult male will average about 353 pounds.

A newborn gorilla weighs about 3 to 4 pounds; this is about half the weight of a human at birth. A baby gorilla is dependent upon its mother for about three years.

Males mature around the age of 10 to 12 years, and about that time the hair on their backs begins to turn silver. Therefore, the mature males are referred to as silverbacks. The silverbacks are the leaders of the family group.

Generally, gorillas are peaceful and non-aggressive animals. However, the silverback is famous for his ferocious nature when he is threatened or when protecting his family. In spite of his potential aggression, the silverback can be very tolerant and even playful with youngsters.

Gorillas may consume as much as 77 pounds of vegetation a day. That's why enough space and a healthy forest are critical for their survival. They eat 70 kinds of plants and 200 different parts of various vegetation including wild celery, leaves, herbs, thistles, nettles, shrubs, roots, bark, flowers, fruit, fungi and bamboo. Sometimes gorillas will eat ants and termites to supplement their diet.

Gorillas spend about 30 percent of their time eating, 40 percent sleeping and 30 percent travelling. Gorillas move regularly in a constant search for food, thus allowing vegetation to regenerate in their absence. Large uninterrupted areas of habitat are therefore required to support gorillas.

Notice on my silverback (not my husband) in the photos above that the hair on its arms is quite long. This is a clue that it is a Mountain Gorilla (one of the rarest on earth). The reason its hair is longer than the other two types of gorillas (Western and Eastern Lowland) is because it lives at higher altitudes, ranging from 5,249 feet to 13,123 feet, and needs the hair for warmth. Mountain Gorillas also have larger jaws, smaller noses and shorter arms than the other two types of gorillas.

The Mountain Gorilla population numbers around 700 individuals (unlike the other two species which are more abundant and can be found in zoos). No Mountain Gorillas are found in zoos, primarily because they have never survived in captivity.

With your interest in gorillas it would be great if you could one day travel to Rwanda and take your own silverback pictures.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

Baby gorilla smuggled out of Virunga Park (hidden in bag at Goma Congo airport) & Nkunda negotiated return of Virunga rangers (ranger documents recent gorilla births) & Nkunda may be transferred to neutral country (Rwanda fears for his death if sent to Congo) & Rwanda & Congo discuss Nkunda's fate (Kabila wants Kagame to extradite Nkunda) & Rwanda Hutus on rampage in Kivu Congo (raping, burning houses, looting, killing). BBC/NatGeo/Reut/AllAfrica, May 6, 2009

NKUNDA SAVED CONGO GORILLAS (National Geographic magazine came here and they slept in our defence... and gorillas came in the morning and scratched on their tent) & VISITING RWANDA'S RARE GORILLAS

Silverback Profile Nkunda Nat Geo NKUNDA GUERRILLA GORILLA TOURS

Congo Warlord Nkunda's Arrest Puts Gorillas' Future in Turmoil, National Geographic News, Jan 23, 2009
The political future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park home to about 200 of the world's roughly 680 mountain gorillas was thrown into turmoil Thursday night with the arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. Nkunda's rebel movement had held sway over much of the region in which Virunga is located since August 2007. When the rebels called the National Congress for the People's Defense (CNDP) took over the park, the government rangers working to protect the gorillas were forced to evacuate the area. After a 15-month-long absence, the rangers were able to return in November 2008 after the park's director, Emmanuel de Merode, struck a deal directly with Nkunda to allow his rangers to resume their work. It's unclear how that arrangement and the protection of the gorillas will be affected by Nkunda's arrest....In an interview last month with National Geographic News in Bunagana, Nkunda talked extensively about his plans to safeguard the gorillas and develop Virunga National Park as a tourist destination. Likening Virunga and its crowd-pleasing apes to natural resources, Nkunda said, "In other places they have petrol. We have the gorillas. The park is like our petrol; the gorillas are our fuel. These gorillas will remain and the national park will remain forever. We have to protect them."...

"There's been a very dramatic shift over the last 48 hours the Congolese government forces have established authority over [the area]," said de Merode, the Virunga park director. Congolese government forces have been accused in the past of taking part in the illegal charcoal trade, which represents a major threat to the mountain gorillas and their habitat. Much of the charcoal is made from old-growth forest harvested inside Virunga National Park. It is unclear exactly who is now in charge militarily in the Virunga region. De Merode plans to travel Saturday to Rutshuru, a former rebel [Nkunda CNDP] stronghold near the park, where he will meet with the traditional chief of the area. "The chief asked me to accompany him to reassure the populations in the central part of the park," de Merode said. It's been only two months since the rangers returned to the park, and de Merode says it's critically important for them to be able to continue their work. "The thing about any national park is that it takes many years of hard work to build them up, to recover them, to reestablish them as healthy national parks, but it only takes a few days to destroy them," he said. "So we have to be there all the time to avoid that happening. At the moment our work is completely uninterrupted by these political events. But, he added, "the difficulties that we're facing are the same as the ones we'll be facing next week, next month, next year. We just have to keep going."

Gorilla warfare. (the gorillas are safer under Nkunda than they were under Kabila). Sydney Morning Herald, January 4, 2009

Rangers return to protect Virunga gorillas (species transcends political differences). AP, Nov 21, 2008


Nkunda attacks Congo deal with China (state scandously sold-out resources). AFP, Nov 21, 2008

No refuge for Congo's gorillas ("The animals we followed every day are now roaming without protection"). Guardian, Nov 13, 2008

Nkunda rebels seized Congo gorilla park (not harming rangers or gorillas). National Geographic, Oct 27, 2008

Gunmen kill ranger in east Congo gorilla park. AllAfrica, Aug 31, 2007
GOMA, Congo (Reuters) - Suspected Rwandan Hutu rebels killed a park ranger in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the latest attack on guards who protect rare mountain gorillas in a national park, officials said on Friday. The attack late on Thursday on the ranger station at Kabaraza, 95 km (60 miles) north of the North Kivu provincial capital Goma, followed the killings of five of the endangered gorillas in recent weeks in the Virunga National Park.... The ranger died from his wounds, and a worker at the camp was injured by a bullet in the neck. Houses were looted. Other rangers who drove the attackers off said they spoke Rwandan and were believed to be members of the largely Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group which operates in eastern Congo.... Thursday's attack came in the same turbulent area of eastern Congo where government troops have been battling soldiers loyal to a [Tutsi] renegade general, Laurent Nkunda....See CONGO WRONG ON NKUNDA

Murders in the Mist (100 rangers have been killed trying to protect the animals). TheTimes, Aug 11, 2007

Gorillas Dead Silverback gorillas killed in Congo (7 murders in 7 months). Telegraph, Aug 9, 2007



by Camilla de la Bedoyere, photos by Bob Campbell, forward by Dr Jane Goodall, 2005
Here for the first time, Dian's story is told through the letters she wrote to her friends and family, set in context by a compelling narrative. Bob Campbell, the National Geographic photograher who worked closely with Dian, captured the unique and extraordinary images.

Fossey Mowat VIRUNGA: THE PASSION OF DIAN FOSSEY, by Farley Mowat, 1987
Virunga is the startling true account of Dian Fossey's life based on her private correspondence, journals, camp records, personal papers and interviews with her colleagues, friends and enemies.

Gorillas Fossey GORILLAS IN THE MIST, by Dian Fossey, 1983
In Dian Fossey's own words, here is the riveting account of her thirteen years in the remote Africa rain forests with the greatest of the great apes.

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~