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Mountain Gorillas are Great at Socialising and 'Gladly' Welcome Long-lost Friends, Says Study

Mountain gorilla.

Mountain gorilla.

A study found that mountain gorillas meet and greet other groups of the great apes 'gladly' and welcome friends they haven’t seen in a while.

If you have a friendly relationship with your neighbour, then you have something in common with mountain gorillas.

A study found that mountain gorillas meet and greet other groups of the great apes “gladly” and welcome friends they haven’t seen in a while.

However, that’s only if the neighbour or long-lost friend isn’t encroaching on their territory. The researchers from the University of Exeter tracked and analysed movement as well as interactions of mountain gorilla groups in Rwanda over a 16-year-period.

They discovered that familiar groups were often welcomed- even if they hadn’t interacted for as long as a decade- as long as they stayed around the periphery or their territory. They acted out with “real aggression” if an unrecognisable group (or even a familiar group) tried to invade their habitat.

This research shows that humans aren’t the only ones who depend on friendships and social circles for cooperation or we aren’t the only ones who evolved to share access and space and resources. Gorillas also benefit from maintaining close-circles and long-lasting friendships, the study says. Mountain Gorillas are known to live in very tight-knit communities where they forage, sleep, rest, and live together. Their habitat and territory are divided as “home range” which is smaller and a “peripheral range” which is wider. However, the groups may split or separate during their life. Even very closely related animals may end up living with a completely different group for years.

“Meetings of groups are fairly rare, and at first both groups are usually cautious,” said lead author and gorilla expert Robin Morrison, according to Dailymail.

He said the primary reaction of beating the chest to show-off strength can either turn aggressive with fights and screams or a docile one if they recognise no threat in the incoming group. They may even rest together once they recognise each other, and their younger ones may play together.

Morrison and his team studied these movements and interactions of 17 groups of mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park over 16 years.


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