Are gorillas dangerous?
Are mountain gorillas dangerous? or the other gorilla species? One of the most asked questions by guests interested in taking on a mountain gorilla trek or on the briefing ahead of the mountain gorilla activity. Guests will have a mandatory briefing in the morning before they set out into the forest to look for the mountain gorillas. The mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas are the most visited and trekked gorillas in their natural habitat.
The gorilla species are a type of primate and these gentle giants share up to 99% of the human DNA but these are still wild animals so expect them to be wild. The gorillas that are available for visiting are usually habituated but these are still in their wild nature. They are large ground dwelling apes but very peaceful animals unless provoked.
Gorillas have been seen being violent at a number of occurrences but this has been majorly towards each other and rarely to the visitors. Both the mountain gorillas and the lowland gorillas live in families of about 4 to up to 30 members and there are a number of reasons as to why the gorillas are violent towards each other. The gorilla families are spearheaded by a one adult male gorilla known as a silverback and can be identified by the grey hair at the lower back.
The silverback protects his family at all costs even if it means to charge against another family member or even an outsider trying to disrupt the family. You may also see the juvenile gorillas fight against each other which is also a common sighting even in humans of the adolescent stage.
Are the gorillas dangerous to humans?
This is a major worry for the humans expecting to come into close contact with the wild animals. This is a rare to non-existent threat as the mountain gorilla trekking experience is executed with guidelines that are offered on the briefing before the activity. If a guest follows all the guidelines, then there would be absolutely no reason for the gorillas to attack them.
As you may know these gorillas you get to visit on your Rwanda safari or your Congo safaris tours are habituated which means they have been accustomed to human visit in their natural habitat. The mountain gorillas or even the lowland gorillas will only attack or charge at a human once they feel threatened by them.
It is very important to keep a 7-meter distance between the gorillas while on your mountain gorilla trekking not only to limit the spread of disease but also not to provoke the gorillas to charge at you.
The gorillas are very strong animals and to put one adult gorilla, you will need the power of 4 adult males and yet the gorillas still prove to be calm and gentle thus their nickname of the gentle giants.
Gorilla fights may not be a common sighting in the gorilla families that are stable with one defined leader with his females. If a foreign gorilla tries to pick or conquer one of the females in his group, that will definitely result into a fight until one emerges the winner.
Gorilla fights will also be seen between two dominant males from different families or even from the same family in an aim for one to take over the other one’s family. Silverbacks can only lead a family after claiming and showing strength to be a leader and by fighting the other male is the only way the family can respect him as their leader.
These fights between two dominant males can be fatal as the gorillas have sharp and long canine teeth which can cut deep into the other to even result into death or incapacitation of the weaker male.
These conflicts are not as often as expected from a wild animal as they try to avoid them and live in peace and harmony. If the gorillas are not amused by the current events, they will first charge or just display behaviors to scare away the threat before they eventually give in to fights. Some of these behaviors are by barking or making strong and high-pitched sounds similar to a roar, maybe standing up straight on the hind legs, plucking vegetation and throwing it to target the threat, pound their broad chests with their palms folded and this is a major sign to retract.
After all those signs are given off and the threat remains, that is when the gorilla will charge.