baby mountain gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda

- Image ID: RATKR6
baby mountain gorilla, Gorilla beringei beringei, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda
B.O'Kane / Alamy Stock Photo
Image ID: RATKR6
The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei). It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as the total population is estimated to comprise 1,004 individuals in two populations as of 2018. One population lives in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and the other in the Virunga Mountains in three adjacent national parks, namely Uganda's Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mountain gorillas are descendants of ancestral monkeys and apes found in Africa and Arabia during the start of the Oligocene epoch (34-24 million years ago). The fossil record provides evidence of the hominoid primates (apes) found in east Africa about 22–32 million years ago. The fossil record of the area where mountain gorillas live is particularly poor and so its evolutionary history is not clear.[3] It was about 9 million years ago that the group of primates that were to evolve into gorillas split from their common ancestor with humans and chimps; this is when the genus Gorilla emerged. It is not certain what this early relative of the gorilla was, but it is traced back to the early ape Proconsul africanus.[4] Mountain gorillas have been isolated from eastern lowland gorillas for about 400,000 years and these two taxa separated from their western counterparts approximately 2 million years ago.[5] There has been considerable and as yet unresolved debate over the classification of mountain gorillas. The genus was first referenced as Troglodytes in 1847, but renamed to Gorilla in 1852. It was not until 1967 that the taxonomist Colin Groves proposed that all gorillas be regarded as one species (Gorilla gorilla) with three sub-species. Following a review in 2003, they were divided into two species (Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei) by The World Conservation Union (IUCN).
Location: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda, Africa