Why are Gorillas Endangered? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

Gorillas can only be found in the forest of central Africa and these magnificent creatures are in trouble. In this lesson, discover these giants of the jungle and why they are endangered.

Giants of the Forest

You're sweaty and tired. You've been trekking all day into the rainforests of the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. Insects you cannot even identify swarm around you. You feel like giving up, but your team of field researchers believes you are almost there, so you carry on. Then, you hear it. The loud screaming sound of the silverback male. Your team stops abruptly as the leader points ahead, and there they are. A band of mountain gorillas, the few left in the world. At that moment, you renew your commitment to protect these magnificent creatures and know that your adventure to get here was worth it!

Gorilla Family

A Little More Info

Gorillas are considered endangered due to their small population and likelihood of becoming extinct. Before we can venture into why they are endangered, you need to understand a little more about where they live and their behavior.

Gorillas are only found in the forests of central Africa. They live in bands of 6-12 gorillas, with the oldest and strongest silverback (male) leading the family. The silverback is the one who decides where the family will travel each day, when they will eat, and even when and where they will stop for the night. The females of the family usually have one baby every four years, which means that gorilla populations increase very slowly.

Gorillas are herbivores, and consume only the plants that they can find in their habitat. This may be leaves, stems, roots, vines, herbs, trees, grass, or even fruit. This type of food is low in nutrition, so gorillas need to eat a lot of it to survive. For example, a male gorilla can eat more than 40 lbs. of vegetation per day. Wow, is that a lot! Fortunately, gorillas don't have to stop for water that often, because they get most of the water they need from the plants they eat.

Silverback Male

Now that you have a few gorilla facts under your belt, let's use these to understand why these magnificent creatures are endangered.


It is very difficult for scientists to track the number of gorillas left in the world accurately, because gorillas are shy creatures. Therefore, scientists must rely on the evidence gorillas leave behind to know if they live in a habitat. Even though scientists disagree on the exact number of gorillas, they all agree that their numbers have severely decreased. Several factors have led to this.

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