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Mother and child

Mother and child
Photo Information
Copyright: Peter van Zoest (PeterZ) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-10-23
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Nikon D300, AF Nikkor 70-300mm f4-5.6 G, Digital RAW
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/100 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): TN Classics [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2012-06-01 7:25
Viewed: 4180
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 62
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Although I’ve visited the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi NP Uganda in the wild in 2001, I found this photo in my archive taken in Apenheul, the Netherlands.

Gorillas are the largest extant genus of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas comprise one eponymous genus that is divided into two species and either four or five subspecies. The DNA of gorillas is highly similar to that of a human, from 95–99% depending on what is counted, and they are the next closest living relatives to humans after the bonobo and common chimpanzee.

Gorillas' natural habitats cover tropical or subtropical forests in Africa. Although their range covers a small percentage of Africa, gorillas cover a wide range of elevations. The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift montane cloud forests of the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in altitude from 2,200–4,300 metres. Lowland gorillas live in dense forests and lowland swamps and marshes as low as sea level, with western lowland gorillas living in Central West African countries and eastern lowland gorillas living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near its border with Rwanda.

Behavior and ecology
Range and habitat
Gorillas have a patchy distribution. The range of the two species is separated by the Congo river and its tributaries. The western gorilla lives in west central Africa while the eastern gorilla lives in east central Africa. Between the species and even within the species, gorillas live in a variety of habitats and elevations. Gorilla habitat ranges from montane forests to swamps. Eastern gorilla inhabit montane and submontane forests between 650–4000 m. Mountain gorillas live in the montane forests at the higher ends of the elevation range while eastern lowland gorillas live in submotane forests at the lower ends of the elevation range. In addition, eastern lowland gorillas live in montane bamboo forests as well as lowland forests ranging from 600–3308 m in elevation. Western gorillas live in both lowland swamp forests and montane forests and live in elevations ranging from sea level to 1600 m. Western lowland gorillas live in swamp and lowland forests ranging up to 1600 m. and Cross River gorillas live in low-lying and submontane forests ranging 150–1600 m.

Food and foraging
A gorilla's day is synchronized, divided between rest periods and travel or feeding periods. There are dietary differences between and within species. Mountain gorillas mostly eat foliage such as leaves, stems, pith, and shoots while fruit makes up a very small part of their diet. They primarily eat bamboo. The food that mountain gorillas eat is widely distributed and both individuals and groups do not have to compete with each other. Their home ranges average 3–15 km2, and their movements range around 500 m or less on an average day. Despite eating a few species in each habitat, mountain gorillas have a flexible diet and can live in a variety of habitats.
Gorillas rarely drink water "because they consume succulent vegetation that is comprised of almost half water as well as morning dew", although both mountain and lowland gorillas have been observed drinking.
One possible predator of gorillas is the leopard. Gorilla remains have been found in leopard scat but it is possible that this may be the result of scavenging. When the group is attacked by humans, leopards, or other gorillas, an individual silverback will protect the group, even at the cost of his own life.

Social structure
Gorillas live in groups called troops. Troops tend to be made of one adult male or silverback, multiple adult females and their offspring. However, multi-male troops also exist. Silverbacks are typically more than 12 years of age and named for the distinctive patch of silver hair on their back which comes with maturity. They also have large canine teeth which also come with maturity. Both males and females tend to emigrate from their natal groups. For mountain gorillas, females disperse from their natal troops more than males. Mountain gorillas and western lowland gorillas also commonly transfer to second new groups. Mature males tend to also leave their groups and establish their own troops by attracting emigrating females. However, male mountain gorillas sometimes stay in their natal troops and become subordinate to the silverback. If the silverback dies, these males may be able to become dominant or mate with the females. This behavior has not been observed in eastern lowland gorillas. In a single male group, when the silverback dies, the females and their offspring disperse and find a new troop. Without a silverback to protect them, the infants will likely fall victim to infanticide. Joining a new group is likely to be a tactic against this. However while gorilla troops usually disband after the silverback dies, female eastern lowlands gorillas and their offspring have been recorded staying together until a new silverback transfers into the group. This likely serves as protection from leopards. All male troops have also been recorded.

The silverback is the center of the troop's attention, making all the decisions, mediating conflicts, determining the movements of the group, leading the others to feeding sites and taking responsibility for the safety and well-being of the troop. Younger males subordinate to the silverback, known as blackbacks, may serve as backup protection. Blackbacks are aged between 8 and 12 years of age and lack the silver back hair. The bond a silverback has with his females forms the core of gorilla social life. Bonds between them are maintained by grooming and stay close together. Females form strong relationships with males to gain mating opportunities and protection from predators and infanticidal outside males. However aggressive behaviors between males and females do occur but rarely lead to serious injury. Relationships between females may vary. Maternally related females in a troop tend to be friendly towards each other and associate closely. Otherwise, females have few friendly encounters and commonly act aggressively towards each other. Females may fight for social access to males and a male may intervene. Male gorillas have weak social bonds, particularly in multi-male groups with apparent dominance hierarchies and strong competition for mates. However, males in all-male groups tend to have friendly interactions and socialize through play, grooming and staying together, and occasionally they even engage in homosexual interactions.

Reproduction and parenting
Females mature at 10–12 years (earlier in captivity); males at 11–13 years. A female’s first ovulatory cycle occurs when she is six years of age and is followed by a two year long period of adolescent infertility. The estrous cycle last 30–33 days with outward ovulation signs subtle compared to that of chimpanzees. The gestation period lasts 8.5 months. Female mountain gorillas first give birth at 10 years of age and have four year interbirth intervals. Males can be fertile before reaching adulthood. Gorillas mate year round.
Females will purse their lips and slowly approach a male while and make eye contact. This serves to urge the male to mount her. If the male does not respond, then she will try to attract his attention by reaching towards him or slapping the ground. In multi-male groups, solicitation indicates female preference. However females can be forced to mate with multiple males. Males incite copulation by approaching a female and displaying at her or touching her and giving a "train grunt". Recently, gorillas have been observed engaging in face-to-face sex, a trait that was once considered unique to humans and the bonobo.
Gorilla infants are vulnerable and dependant and thus mothers, their primary caregivers, are important to their survival. Male gorillas are not active in caring for the young. However they do play a role in socializing them to other youngsters. The silverback has a largely supportive relationship with the infants in his troop and shields them from aggression within the group. Infants remain in contact with their mothers for the first five months and mothers stay near the silverback for protection. Infants will suckle at least once per hour and will sleep with their mothers in the same nest.

Infants begin to break contact with their mothers after five months but only for brief period each time. By 12 months, infants move up to five meters from their mothers. At around 18–21 months, the distance between mother and offspring increases and they regularly spend time away from each other. In addition, nursing decreases to once every two hours. Infants spend only half of their time with their mothers by 30 months. They enter their juvenile period at their third year and this lasts until their sixth year. At this time, gorillas are weaned and they sleep in a separate nest from their mothers. After their offspring are weaned, females begin to ovulate and soon become pregnant again. The presence of play partners, including the silverback, minimize conflicts in weaning between mother and offspring.

Source: Parts of Wikipedia

maaciejka, Silvio2006, Marco2010, buscape, CeltickRanger, plutonexx, eqshannon, bungbing, anel has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Peter,
a nice picture of this mother and child. you caught the affection successfully.
best wishes,

sad picture in captivity, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2012-06-01 7:52]

Hello Peter,
A tender, but rather sad capture of this mother and child. Technically this is top quality and the composition perfect. To my mind the picture not only reflects the sadness of captivity, now necessary to preserve this species, but also the situation for the Mountain Gorilla, caused by a related species!
Thanks and have good weekend,

  • Great 
  • joska Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 806 W: 0 N: 4092] (22535)
  • [2012-06-01 7:54]

Hello Peter,
Great photo of these mountain gorillas, mother and child, like a life sculpture, TFS!
Regards, Joska

Hello Peter,
Another spectacular composition with excellent focus and very good clarity. Wonderful contrast against the background. It is a lovely species I have never seen in the wild. I like the brilliant colors and natural light.
Thanks for sharing!

Hi Peter,
what a nice family :)
Perfect point of view. Nice colours. Very good sharpness and details.
Thanks for sharing,

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2012-06-01 8:39]

Hi Peter,magnificent pic! It looks like a sculpture in black and white,fantastic couple,position and great details,a beautiful pearl from your archive!Have a nice weekend and thanks,Luciano

  • Great 
  • KOMSIS Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 820 W: 0 N: 2419] (10674)
  • [2012-06-01 8:45]

Hallo Peter,
Today my neighbor ..
Very thoughtful and meaningful. A nice capture of this Mother and child Gorilla. Good sharp details and a nice composition.
Best wishes,

Witaj Peter,
Beautiful family painting. The quality of picture the EXTRA.. So many warmth in him and feeling. Child sleeps in parent's shoulders trustingly. It is safe. For me this picture has the depth of feelings.
Gratulacje i pozdrowienia

Ciao Peter, great family portrait, beautiful composition, fine details, wonderful natural colors and splendid sharpness, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • siggi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3097 W: 109 N: 12399] (52850)
  • [2012-06-01 9:20]

Hello Peter,
wonderful composition of this mother and child. Very nice POV and nice OOF background.
Colors and sharpness are very good.Best regards Siggi

hallo Peter
Mooie scherpe foto goed uit het midden zo met de rots erbij
mooie kleuren en erg mooi licht
super shot
groetjes lou

Hello Peter,
Excellent capture of this mountain gorillas in its natural habitat with good pose and compozition,sharp details and bright natural colours.
Have a nice weekend!

Ook een gave foto man, apenheul?


Ciao Peter.
Stupenda foto basta osservarla θ dice tutto COMPLIMENTI.
Ti auguro un Buon fine settimana ciao Marco.

Hello Peter,
this is a fantastic picture of the Gorillas with excellent sharpness and beautifully natural colours. I especially like the expressions of thier faces and your great composition. Although it is not a picture taken in the wild, it is really a wonderful shot. Congratulations!
Best wishes,

Hi Peter,

An excellent portrait with fine details, sharpness & composition. Very nicely presented & TFS.

Best wishes & regards!


Hello Peter

Beautiful photo with full of tenderness, fine POV
and framing, great focus, sharpness and details, TFS


Boa tarde Peter
The sad reality that faces these simians.
Fantastic capture my Friend.Congrats!
Thank You
Best wishes

  • Great 
  • iti Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 577 W: 0 N: 650] (7939)
  • [2012-06-02 12:01]

Hi Peter,
Excellent photo full emotion. Nice colours with excellent detail.
Composition and light are very good.
Regards Jiri.

  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2012-06-02 19:31]

Hello Peter,
What a cute an inspiring image. The facial expressions on both the mother and her baby are simply precious. This is not just an awesome photo, but it also tells the story of the unbreakable and close love bond between a mother and her offspring. Superb work!!

Hello Peter,
successful image in addition to its extraordinary beauty of this photograph is able to convey emotions.
Congratulations you have managed to execute a picture perfect in everything from art to its composition.

Thanks for sharing,

Hello Peter,the image is really well composed with the gorillas placed on the side of the frame,a very moving photograph.

This is a hundred pointer one day down the road..It is a classic image all in itself. I am so happy I posted today and it gave me a chance to view this one Peter...You do superior work as it is but this is at the top of the heap. What chance....just beyond words....

Hello Peter,
Great image of these Gorillas, fantastic details sharpness against out of focus background, and excellent composition, a very lovely image,
Thanks for sharing and have a nice day,
Best Regards,

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2012-06-05 11:36]

Hello Peter,
Missed this great shot, I have been sick for several days. But all ma compliments for this touching and well presented scene. Even if it has been taken in aztoo. I remember of course the beautiful monkey-pictures you had taken in Africa a few yeras ago.
Have a nice evening

  • Great 
  • deud Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 438 W: 11 N: 534] (2540)
  • [2012-06-06 13:47]


That`s really amasing! Great shot!
Nice pose and composition.
The atmosphere is fantastic.


Wow.. what a shot!! great composition and expression of the models!!

Amazing scene and fantastic photo Peter! The pose, the composition, the colours and the sharpness are excellent!

Hello Peter,

Extremely strong emotion portrayed in this professionally composed image. Sadness, contemplation, worry, concern come to the mind quickly. Animals convey so much through their expressions & you have captured this physical aspect well. The light is just right & the focus & pov draws & captivates the eye.

Well timed, well taken!



It is a great pleasure for me to see such composition.

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