Mountain gorillas are large, powerful herbivores with no predators above them in the food chain; they feed on everything from wild grass to tree pulp and once they reach their adult size after several years of growth they have no natural predators in their home range. Mountain gorillas are important to their local ecologies because they help keep plant growth under control by grazing on stems, shoots and leaves which also gives trees opportunities to put out new growth.
Gorillas spend most of their time on the ground but are able climbers and may take to the trees to acquire tantalizing food or to avoid threats. Gorillas do not often harm one another and are generally gentle, though males in dominance displays make loud noises and engage in frightening threat displays.
At birth gorillas are small and vulnerable and it takes them years to reach a mature size at which they can fend for themselves. During this period they ride on their mothers and remain close to their home troop.
Without gorillas forests would not be as healthy or as quick to grow, as the apes promote new growth and consume the old. They are an important keystone species under significant threat because of the destruction of their habitat and because of human poaching and hunting.