Are Gorillas Dangerous? Many tourists that plan to undertake a gorilla trekking in Africa safari usually have a number of questions running through their minds like are gorillas dangerous, what do I need to see gorillas, among so many others. Gorillas, especially mountain gorillas that can only be found in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are very gentle apes that are shy though giant as they look.
Mountain gorillas are a very gentle ape species that lives in the mountain slopes and densely forested areas of the Virunga Conservation Area that encompasses Virunga National Park of the Congo, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda; as well as Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda still which inhabits the highest population of mountain gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are wild animals. They however share 98% DNA with humans, and can therefore behave and interact like humans do with all the different emotions therein. Just like humans, gorillas bond, love, are attentive to their loved ones, are protective and definitely can feel anger. Gorillas can feel all that humans feel, including pain, heartache, sorrow, joy as well as depression.
How or when are gorillas dangerous?
As earlier mentioned, gorillas are particularly gentle and very shy ape species despite their giant build. It is due to poor handling or interaction with the gorillas that has them being aggressive and therefore become dangerous.
When gorillas feel threatened, they become defensive and thus pose a danger to those around them that is the humans or intruders say other wild animals or even another gorilla. Humans threaten gorillas when they use flash cameras, get to close to them say beyond the recommended 7-meters distance, stare at them directly in the eyes, touch their infants, and make uncoordinated gestures and sounds that the gorillas misinterpret. When they do feel threatened though, they’ll first send warning signs say thumping their chests, stamping their feet on the ground, roaring, hooting, moving on their hind legs, and grunting. Depending on the behaviours of the threat, the gorillas can choose to attack or not do it at all.
Gorillas are dangerous when they do attack their threat physically. This they do by viciously biting, scratching, rib cracking and whipping of their opponent or threat say tourists who do not follow the rules and guidelines when gorilla trekking. They can even drag them so roughly in those very densely forested national parks with loads of crawlies that can also be very vicious. There are instances, though not with habituated gorillas that tourists visit, that there have been killings of humans by gorillas. This is mostly true with the poachers on those wild and unhabituated gorillas.
Gorillas are however most dangerous to themselves since it is them that they are always in contact with. When silverbacks are fighting for the dominant position of a particular gorilla family, they can be very dangerous to each other for they all have a lot to lose if they didn’t fight to their best. This fight leaves them with bodily injuries which can sometimes result into death.
Silverbacks that try to steal members from the main gorilla family when they do want to breakoff can only do so after winning in a very vicious fight with the dominant silverback.
Also, dominant silverbacks sometimes fight with other male silverbacks when they are after female gorillas in their family given that it is only the dominant silverback entitled to them, that is, mating with all of them, alone.
Conclusively, travelers should know that gorillas are not dangerous animals, but will get defensive if they feel threatened. Travelers are therefore encouraged to stay clear of the gorillas and this is only possible with strictly following the rules and guidelines provided.
Some of the rules and guidelines that travelers are encouraged to follow whilst gorilla trekking so as to avoid the wrath of gorillas include the following;
Maintain a 7-meter distance away from the gorillas. This is for the gorillas to not feel threatened that they may get aggressive and consequently pose a danger to the tourists. Not surrounding the gorillas is also advised, travelers should stay in their groups at all times.
Do not at any time touch the gorillas. Travelers are reminded that gorillas are still wild animals despite their being habituated for tourists to visit. Travelers are particularly cautioned to not touch the infant gorillas for their mothers are very protective and the dominant silverback is more protective and guards them with great caution. Trying to touch them would put travelers at a high risk of being attacked.
Do not use flash cameras whilst taking pictures of the gorillas. The flash light makes them stress out, feel insecure and thus get defensive that they might charge at the bearer.
With the above rules and guidelines, travelers on a gorilla trekking safari are assured of being safe while with the gorillas. Additionally, there are rangers that are well armed and trained on how to deal with dangerous situations whilst gorilla trekking. A question like are gorillas dangerous should not have you shy away from gorilla trekking in Africa. Get in touch with reputable tour operators to help you plan a safe gorilla trekking safari.