Looking into the gorilla planet, you can be astonished with how the silverback gorillas interact with their young ones. If you have not yet gone on a gorilla safari, you will not easily understand the animalist behavior exhibited by these great apes that are easily related to us. In fact the gorillas share 98% of human DNA.
In the social organization of the family, in most cases, a dominant male gorilla (the silverback) has the mating right in the group. Therefore, he is the father of most of the babies produced by females in the troop. The silverback gorilla has a responsibility of the protecting the family from any threats and his work never stops there. It also goes into grooming and teaching the young ones the tactical skills it needs to live within the forest. You will be surprised with how many photos that have been taken when a silver back gorilla is grooming its youg ones.
The relationship between the young gorillas and their fathers is quite good and you can witness this on most gorilla watching safari in Africa. You will see young ones always staying close to their dad . Even when they are ranging within the forest, the father always ensure safety of the whole group and much attention is paid to the young ones.
Young Gorillas stay close to their father and some times even sleep in his nest. Remember gorillas build nests daily since they sleep in new nests each night. Young Gorillas some times play with their father, lean on him and climb on his back.
The father’s role is to protect young ones from any danger and in case the mother leaves the group or die, the father take full responsibility of the young ones. This has been witnessed in several habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
In case of any danger to the young ones, the father runs to rescue. If the young Gorilla is caught on the snare or trap – it can be quickly removed by the father who uses his canine teeth.
The gorilla world is not an easy world. Like in other animals, at times there are threats posed by fights for dominance and power. The father will always defend for his group not to fall into the hands of a stranger who can be hostile. In case the dominant Silver back is overthrown by another male gorilla, the successor can kill some Baby Gorillas in the group. He does so to speed up the fertility rates among female in the group so that he can also get babies in the short period of time.
However, to date this has been observed only in the mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes.
The number of off springs produced by the female Gorillas
At the age of 10 years, the female gorillas begin giving birth to baby Gorillas. Every 4 years, the female Gorilla give birth to one off spring however, 26% of the babies die in their first year.
As most gorilla mothers have only a few offspring who survive to adulthood, gorilla numbers increase only very slowly. One mountain gorilla mother holds the record with six surviving offspring. Another female gave birth to eight babies, but only two of them reached sexual maturity. The fertility of free ranging mountain gorilla females has not been observed to decrease with old age.