Please meet 38 - year - old Cantsbe, the oldest Mountain Gorilla on the face of our planet earth and guess where his home is? Right here in Rwanda on the volcanic slopes of the mountains. Cantsbe is the and the rest of his kind is the closest relative to the human race sharing 98% of our DNA! Incredible! One of the most remarkable feature of these close relatives is their unique nose wrinkles. Just as finger prints are unique to each person, each tiny crinkly nose wrinkle that graces the awesome noses of each gorilla is special to each gorilla!
Because of the 98% similarities in our DNA, you can expect (and rightly so) that there will be similarities in behavior. Just live human beings, mountain gorillas are very social animals that live in troops of about thirty animals. A troop can consist of adult males, called silver backs( after the silver hair that grows on their backs as a sign of maturity) just like the grey hair in older humans, as well as females with their young ones.
With less than 900 of these extra ordinary animals left in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, efforts are being done to conserve them as much as possible!
Research into the especially the social relationships of these gorillas is ongoing to explore how these animals interact with each other. Findings help to inform social workers such as psychologists, human resource managers and others how human relations develop and also how they affect others around them. It was observed that the gorillas that spent a lot of time tighter eventually form very strong bonds that last until something like death or separation occurs. Females were discovered to have longer lasting relationships than their counterparts the males whose friendships were strained by power rivalry as they grew older.
With a very similar DNA to ours, mountain gorillas are bound to be affected by similar diseases and infections like ours. Diseases like Ebola and flue are some of the ones that affect the gorillas. When scientists study their effects in these animals, they are also exploring the possible prevention strategies and cures for human beings.
And of course the ecosystem depends heavily on animals like the mountain gorillas to keep it balanced.
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor