Are gorillas dangerous to people?
All wild animals are known to be potentially dangerous and should be treated as so. Of recent gorilla trekking has become a trending activity but before the trek many first-time trekkers ask, “are gorillas dangerous to people?” Africa has for long been known for the profuse wildlife ranging from lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and many more but now gorilla trekking is leading the bucket list and the security question is definitely bound to be asked.
About a gorilla
The gorilla is the largest world living primate and the only great ape facing population increase. Typically, shy and reserved, gorillas are the definition of gentle giants. They survive in two sub species of the eastern and western gorilla with each having two other sub species. The eastern gorilla has two sub species of the Eastern lowland and mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei). Western lowland gorilla and Cross River gorilla are subspecies of the western gorilla.
A mountain gorilla is darkly colored with much thicker longer fur whereas the lowland gorillas have lighter and shorter hair. It has longer and shaggier fur. A mountain gorilla weighs about 150kgs with a maximum standing height of at 1.2–1.8 meters (4–6 ft) tall. Western lowland gorillas weigh about 180kg, have shorter and softer hair and stand at a height of 1.7 meters (5.6 ft). Gorillas move in families and in a gorilla family there’s only one head known as the silverback who guards the family. The lifespan of a gorilla varies depending on the specie and habitat. In the wild gorillas can live up to the age of 35-40 years or even more and in captivity, gorillas can live up to the age of 50 years. The only way of seeing the mountain gorillas is by going for a gorilla trekking safari in Uganda, Gorilla safari Rwanda or for a Congo gorilla trekking safari.
Gorillas are not aggressive or readily set to cause harm to people. Generally, gorillas are very shy and reserved towards people however, if threatened or when a person behaves the wrong way they will attack. By behaving the wrong way, it means you didn’t follow the rules and therefore made noise, looked direct into its eyes, beat your chest or did expose them to flash photography, this will get them cautious.
Before gorilla families are opened up for gorilla trekking they go through habituation therefore are carefully exposed to humans in the wild. They will still have caution near humans, but they have learned that humans are not a threat, and they act accordingly.
In the morning of your trek, ranger guides will take you through the gorilla trekking do’s and dont’s and any safety precautions if need be. You then head to meet the gorillas that interact with humans on a daily therefore the trek is safe to undertake and makes the experience enjoyable.
The gorillas on the trek are comfortable with human presence. They’re used to being with tourists and guides daily, which makes trekking much safer. With this in mind, it is easier to enjoy every moment with the gorillas. The gorilla attack triggers include being surprised and threatened.
However, if anything like a gorilla becomes angry how do you tell that you need to be cautious? When a gorilla feels threatened it will react first by making loud grunts and hoots at a distance. If you don’t move away or show “submission” it will escalate its threats by propping itself on its feet and pounding its chest at a very fast rate. By this time if you haven’t submitted yet, it will charge and attack you with scratches, strikes and try to pull you away. This all comes in as defense when the gorilla feels uneasy. A serious attack from a mountain gorilla can only be to poachers and those who intentionally attack them.
When a gorilla charges towards you what then do you do. The best response is to crouch down, look away and act casual. They’ll see you as non-threatening and move on.
If you are still asking whether gorillas are dangerous, definitely no!
Either for your Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, Congo gorilla tour or gorilla safari Uganda, always remember to follow the gorilla trekking rules such that you can come and explain more to those who ask are gorillas dangerous to people?