Hirwa Gorilla Family

Mountain Gorilla Noseprints: Special Things about a Mountain Gorilla Nose

Gorilla Nose – What is Special about a Mountain Gorillas Nose – Mountain gorillas are the largest primates on earth. They inhabit the tropical rain forests in some parts of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are the second closest relatives to humans sharing a DNA of 98%. Just like humans, mountain gorillas have features that make them different from one another and they can therefore be identified based on their body, size, behavior and facial structures. However, it can sometimes be tricky to identify these mountain gorillas since some of them look alike especially from a distance.

During the first scientific observations of mountain gorillas which were started in the 1950s by a field scientist known as George Schaller and then Dian Fossey, there was need for a method that could ease positive identification. The method would be of great use in keeping records and future observers could compare information on the same individuals.

After learning that mountain gorillas have unique patterns of wrinkles on their noses which differentiate them from each other, Schaller and Fossey decided to use them in their study and research of these primates. These wrinkles are known as “nose prints”. It is said that Fossey even made some drawings of the nose prints. This method has since then been used by various researchers. Even now, the staff of Fossey Fund store special photographs of the nose prints of gorillas which have been monitored. They are kept in their long-term scientific database.

Of all the four subspecies of gorillas; mountain gorillas, eastern lowland gorillas, cross river gorillas and western lowland gorillas, mountain gorillas have the most clear nose prints. This is the reason why conservationists who monitor mountain gorillas daily mainly use nose prints when conducting their daily work.

How to identify gorillas: Memorizing nose prints

Memorizing the nose prints of gorillas can take months after watching them very often and doing several drawings of each gorilla. When mountain gorilla researchers receive new staff, this is how they train them to memorize the nose prints of the gorillas so that will be able to identify each gorilla faster when conducting their work in the field. It is important to memorize nose prints of each gorilla because they will need to observe and analyze gorilla behavior when they are in groups and as individual. It said that some gorillas have very distinctive nose prints while others have identical nose prints. It has also been observed that the pattern of the nose print slightly changes as the gorillas grow older.

You can also observe the nose prints of mountain gorillas on your gorilla tour in Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Volcanoes national park or Virunga national park where you are allowed to take photos using a camera that doesn’t flash. Later on you can compare the nose prints of the different gorillas and see the difference, just like some researchers confirm that one of the ways they memorized the nose prints of each individual was to draw them and then compare with the real picture of the nose in the photograph.

Mountain gorillas are the most critically endangered gorillas but there are positive results from the effort of conservation as the number of these gorillas has been rising in the 20th century. A gorilla permit costs USD 700 in Uganda, USD 1,500 in Rwanda and USD 400 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the largest percentage of this fee is used to conserve the gorillas. Book for your gorilla tour with adventure in the wild safaris and get into Africa’s tropical forests to observe the nose of mountain gorillas.