Gorillas and chimpanzees are at the top of the backlist of primate lovers. People travel from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of these primates in their natural habitat. It’s no doubt these primate safaris have become one of the most popular activities in Africa. Gorillas are one of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. They are shy, yet gentle animals. They are interesting creatures to observe and study. Scientists who have studied gorillas have found that they share many physical and behavioral traits with humans. In Uganda, they can be found in the tropical forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda. In Rwanda, they are found in Volcanoes national park. In DR Congo, Gorillas can be found in the Virunga National park and Kahuzi-Beiga national parks.
Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives sharing 97% of their DNA with us. Along with gorillas and orangutans, chimpanzees make up the family Hominidae, which includes all great apes. Chimpanzees live in forests throughout equatorial Africa. Chimpanzees are very social animals and live in groups of up to 100 individuals.
Gorillas and chimpanzees are one of the most sought species by tourists visiting East Africa Tourism especially Uganda – ‘’Pearl of Africa” and Rwanda’s ‘’Land of Thousand Hills”. These two destinations are the capital of primates that live in their natural habitats which are; Mountain gorillas and Chimpanzee species. However, as the tourists are in one of primate-specific habitats trekking –tracking to see these great apes. They normally experience several similarities between the two primate species that sometimes bring confusion about gorillas with chimpanzees and Chimpanzees and gorillas respectively. Ideally, in this article, we address the differences between the gorilla and the chimpanzees to help travelers differentiate these two primate species on their next visit to them. Gorillas vs Chimpanzees – Both gorillas and chimpanzees share about 98% of DNA with human genes meaning can be easily related to humans furthermore gorillas and chimpanzees belong to the order of primates and the difference between gorillas and chimpanzees is the tribe and the genus they belong to. Their life differences, also make them have more similarities with each other than differences. Here are the differences experienced between Gorillas and Chimpanzees as explained below;
Mountain Gorilla is less intelligent than chimpanzees. Mountain gorillas are larger than chimpanzees, generally, gorillas are two times larger. Mountain gorillas have more distinct muscles, arms, and chests compared to the chimpanzee whose muscles arms, and chest are less marked. Gorilla’s faces tend to be black while chimpanzee ‘s faces are pink. Mountain has small ears on the back of their heads while chimpanzees have big ears which can be seen protruding out of their head.
Intelligence Species- Brain Size
Chimpanzees might be smaller in size but they have bigger brains than mountain gorillas. Hence making chimpanzees more intelligent than gorillas. These reward chimpanzees more canning and active animals than mountain gorillas.
It is well known that mountain gorillas are very strong animals, in that one mountain gorilla can carry heavy things alone. For this matter, we advise tourists never to threaten a gorilla because it can fight humans or enemies by trampling the victim into fatal injuries or even death. Yet, Chimpanzees are not that strong, they normally use their intelligence to deal with stronger elements or fight enemies. Note, gorillas are said to be peaceful mammals that rarely start trouble. Unlike chimpanzees trouble makers and violent animals that like causing trouble that makes them gang up against rivals to fight to the death.
Both primates are social, however, chimpanzees are more social than gorillas. They live in large communities of 10 to more than 50 individuals whereas chimpanzees live in smaller groups of about 10 to 40 individuals.
Lifespan –Gorillas and Chimpanzees
Gorillas experience longer lifespans than chimpanzees. In a way that the lifespan of a gorilla estimates about 35 to 50 years or more those in the wild while Chimpanzees have an average lifespan of about 33 years.
Gorillas are the largest living primates reaching heights between 1.25 and 1.8 meters while chimpanzees stand a height of about 1-1.7 meters tall when erect and weigh about 32 to 62 kilograms.
Mountain gorillas’ faces are black while chimpanzees are more pink-colored.
Forehead and Hump
Gorillas have larger heads compared to Chimpanzees which have smaller heads
Both gorillas and chimpanzees live in forested areas; though the mountain gorillas inhabit higher altitudes of tropical rainforest compared to the chimpanzee that inhabits lower altitude forests. Meaning on any primate trekking activity like Mountain gorillas will take long hours and the chimpanzee trek will take a shorter time to find them. Most of the time gorillas spend their time on the ground, unlike the chimpanzee which is normally up in trees –though they are also ground dwellers mammals.
Leadership in Social Circles
Mountain gorillas live in a group of 10 to 50 individuals which can be headed by one silverback known as a dominant male, the group comprises females and offspring with no other males. Apart from males, the offspring can be driven out when they become mature enough and can cater to their food. On the other side, chimpanzees normally live in groups with many males that can jump into leadership anytime need.
Both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees can walk upright though most of the time move on their four limbs. But Chimpanzees are faster movers than mountain gorillas which are huge animals that lead them to move slowly.
Both gorillas and chimpanzees have one offspring at a time. Mountain gorillas undergo a reproductive system of 8.5 months of pregnancy and Chimpanzees are pregnant for 8 months. Female chimpanzees will give birth to one child in 5 years well as female mountain gorillas will have one child within 2 years.
Both primates are known as herbivores that mainly feed on leaves and fruit. Though chimpanzees are known to eat smaller animals and insects which sometimes makes them omnivorous animals, unlike gorillas which are herbivores.
However, both gorillas and chimpanzees are known as primates. Both primates are part of the family Hominidae. Amazingly, they are both endangered animals. Both have strong arms, long, toes, and grasping fingers. Additionally, both gorillas and chimpanzees are intelligent animals. Both have humanlike features whom we share 95 to 99% DNA. They both have broad chests. Both naturally range exclusively in Africa.
Mountain gorillas are estimated at 1065 individuals that still exist in the wild that inhabits four national parks; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National both in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in Congo.
Mountains gorillas are social animals that live in a group called troops and are led by a dominant alpha male known as a silverback. This silverback is good at providing activities like protection, feeding, nesting, and leading them to the seasonal feeding area. The Mountain gorilla family consists of a male, other males, females, juveniles, and in fact like any family of humans.
Gorillas undergo 85 months of gestation and normally give birth to infants weighing only four pounds. Mountain gorillas are found in three countries that is; Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are currently 1065 individuals of mountain gorillas, about 200,000 western lowland gorillas while lowland gorillas are less than 7,000. Their number is decreasing due to being threatened in their habitat. Mountain gorillas are land dwellers and they like spending a lot of time on the ground than climbing trees due to their heavy size.
They feed on a diet consisting of main leaves, flowers, tree bark, roots, ants, and stems whereby a silverback can eat about 18 kilograms of vegetation in a day to support his massive body.
Chimpanzees are known as the most intelligent species. They live in communities made up of around 10 to 40 individuals. Chimpanzees feed mainly on fruits and they also feed on leaves, flowers, seeds, bird eggs insects among others. They are one of the few animals that use tools; Chimpanzees like cracking nuts with rocks, stick to dig up termites, and also use a straw to sip water. They have a gestation period that ranges between 7 to 8 months slightly different from the nine months of human females.
Chimpanzees have a lifespan of over 50 years. Chimpanzee sleep for an average time of about 9 to 10 hours within 24 hours, however, is a long resting period for their health.
Where to find mountain gorillas in Africa: are popularly found in three countries; Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As Uganda is gifted with two homes of these great mountain gorillas; Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park both lie in the southwestern region of Uganda, Rwanda is found in Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda, and Congo in Virunga National Park found in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the eastern lowland gorillas can be found in Kahuzi Biega National Park of Congo as well as Western lowland gorillas can be found in several countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.
However, the best place to see mountain gorillas is Uganda because it ranks half the world’s population of these gentle giants found in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park which houses over 650 habituated mountain gorillas out of the world’s remaining total of about 1065 individuals and the rest species are found Volcanoes, Virunga and Mgahinga National Park. Thus making Uganda the best safari destination for mountain Gorilla Trekking encounters in their natural inhabitants.
Note: No travelers can access one of those Mountain gorilla destinations Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, without Gorilla Permits that allow tourists to access their natural environments.
In Uganda, mountain gorilla permits can be bought at ‘’UWA” Uganda Wildlife Authority or with help of a tour operator at a cost USD700 foreign nonresidents, USD600 Foreign resident, and UGX250,000 East African Countries like Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania.
The Gorilla habituation experience is a full-day activity that includes 4 hours given to visitors to observe these gorillas in their natural inhabitants and be able to learn about their amazing lifestyle, unlike gorilla trekking which is done half-day inclusive with an hour to spend with them observing how they survive, play and feed among others. Gorilla habituation experience costs USD1,500 per person per day and can only be done in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Rwanda gorilla permits can be bought at governing body ‘’ RDB” Rwanda Development Board at a cost of USD1,500 per person per trek.
Where to find Chimpanzees in Eastern Africa: Chimpanzees are commonly found in western Tanzania in Gombe National Park and Uganda. However, Uganda famously sounds like a primate kingdom that estimates a total population of about 5,000 individuals. In the world the remaining chimpanzees range between 170,000 and 300,000 individuals, currently living in the wild splits among the 21 African countries. More so, Uganda is a blessed country among other eastern countries that boosts with many chimpanzee inhabitants such as Kabale Forest National Park, Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Parks, Kalinzu Forest next to Queen and Semliki National Park. Although, most primitive lovers who visit Uganda focus more of their primate holidays in Kibale Forest National Park which harbors a high population of habituated chimpanzees with over 1,500 individuals thus making it the most popular place for chimpanzee tracking in the country, unlike other places.
Despite this, a traveler to access chimpanzee nature inhabitants or do chimpanzee tracking must hold a valid permit; Kibale National Park –Chimpanzee permits cost USD200 for Foreign nonresidents, USD150 for foreign residents, and UGX150,000 for East African Citizens. Chimpanzee habituation experience cost USD250 for foreign nonresidents, USD200 for foreign residents, and East African citizens UGX200,000 per person per day.
Kyambura Gorge –Queen Elizabeth National Park costs USD50 for foreign nonresidents and USD40 for foreign residents and UGX30,000 for East African Citizens ‘’paid per person per day’’.
Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest for both foreign nonresidents and foreign residents costs USD85 per person per day.
Both gorillas and chimpanzees can be trekked-tracked in their respective destinations after being habituated, which means that they first go under a training process before opening up for tourism and this is done after the research team notices that they are now less shy of humans and easier to view without compromising with their natural behaviors.
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