Are gorillas aggressive? Mountain Gorillas as well as Lowland Gorillas can be aggressive and dangerous to human and other animals/fellow gorillas. Gorillas are majorly ground-dwelling, majorly herbivorous apes largely peaceful but in special clear different circumstances, gorillas can be fatally dangerous.

Are gorillas aggressive?

In most cases though much of gorilla violence is directed towards fellow gorillas. Gorillas live in groups/families with demarcated boundaries/territories with one dominant Alpha male (the Silver back) controls the females and youngsters of the group. Usually If another Alpha Male Silver Back approaches in another`s domain, the silverback dominating the attacked family will try to drive the intruder off violently

In different circumstances, gorillas can be truly dangerous. Most gorilla violence is directed towards other gorillas. They live in groups, in which one dominant male silverback controls several females and youngsters. If another male approaches, the silverback will try to drive him off

Gorillas aggression towards people is limitedGorillas are not necessarily dangerous animals but they need very careful handling

Gorillas are generally social animals to wards humans and only become aggressive towards humans when they feel threatened.

Gorilla fighting: How do gorillas fight?

Though gorillas are obviously very strong and powerful, they are generally gentle and very calm. Severe gorilla fights are rare in stable gorilla families.

However, gorillas can fight for females; and they can fight if another male tries to take over the group leadership.

Also, the two dominant silverbacks can sometimes engage in a fight when two gorilla groups meet. Silverback gorilla fights involve using their sharp long canines to cause deep gaping injuries that can result into death.

Because of this, these gentle giants always try as much as possible to avoid conflicts. Often, gorillas resolve their conflicts through displays or threat behaviors that show that they are not happy with whatever could be taking place and doesn’t want to be interrupted.

The threat behaviors are actually intended to intimidate without becoming physical. This unique gorilla threat display usually involves;

  • Barking out powerful hoots or unleashing a roar
  • Standing upright on twos
  • Throwing things including vegetation
  • Pounding their huge chest with cupped hands to express their strength and indicate that they should not be further destructed but rather be left in peace.
  • Slapping and tearing vegetation
  • Slapping the ground with palms

If that does not work the gorilla may attack.

Do gorillas attack humans?

Are gorillas a danger to people? Before Dian Fossey’s work, gorillas had an appalling reputation as violent brutes that would kill a human on sight. Fossey demolished this myth.

Living alongside a group of mountain gorillas in the forests of Rwanda, she showed that these huge apes are actually gentle giants, with individual personalities and rich social lives. In many ways they are like us.

Besides being gentle and calm, gorillas are wild animals that can truly be dangerous if handled carelessly or threatened. In fact, gorilla attacks on human in the wild are very rare and usually motivated by a defensive instinct.

A gorilla that thinks it is in danger will first make threat display noted above. If the human ignores the gorilla threat display, or surprises the gorilla or gets in its way, it may then escalate to thumping, scratching and biting, and eventually charging.

What can make a Mountain Gorilla to charge at you?

Among the many reasons why a gorilla may get annoyed and charge are;

  • Loud noise in the forest during gorilla trekking. Gorillas live in the forest and are used to wild noise that any strange kind of noise can be interpreted as a sign of danger.Are gorillas aggressive?
  • Use of flash when taking photos. This is taken as a threat because it is something that’s very unusual in the gorilla home.
  • Wearing bright colors for gorilla trekking. Gorillas are used to the green nature of the forest jungle they live in in which any sight of bright color is unfamiliar and alerts the gorillas of an intruder into their natural habitat. It is recommended for visitors to dress in dull colors that blend with the natural forest.
  • Sudden movements while in the presence of the gorillas.
  • Touching the gorillas
  • Surrounding the gorilla family / Obstructing the gorilla family.
  • Visiting the gorillas for too long. Long hours with the gorillas can exhaust and destruct the gorilla family and make them become angry.  Angry gorillas can easily become aggressive.
  • Getting very close to the gorillas.
  • Meeting a group which is not habituated.
  • Plain bad mood. This can be as a result of misunderstanding within the group. It can make a gorilla charge at visitors.
  • What should you do if a gorilla charges? Should run you from a gorilla?
  • Listen to the instructions from your ranger guide who will then direct you on what to do in order to safeguard yourself. Gorilla treks are led by an armed ranger guide since they spend a number of times visiting the gorillas so they are well aware of the moods and when the gorillas are irritated.
  • Don’t raise your arms in front of the charged gorilla. Stay calm and be submissive, it will lose interest.
  • Rather pretend not to show any interest in them and mind your own work and avoid direct contact with the gorillas it will walk away from you.
  • Never run away from a charged gorilla. Walk away steadily, taking one step after the other and making any sudden movement to create the distance between you and the gorilla. If you run, it will run after you and will attack you.
  • Crouch down; when the gorilla charges, it’s advisable to be calm down, keep quiet, and unthreatened you can even bend down and avoid eye contact to show respect and unwillingness to attack the gorillas.
  • You can even fall down or keep relaxed or looking up at trees to show that you are defeated and you do not want to attack them.
  • This is reason to show that you not a challenger and you don’t mean any harm to them so it will cool down and will not attack you.

You can study gorilla aggression further when you trek gorillas in Africa. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park & Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Rwanda in Volcanoes National Park or the Democratic Republic of Congo in Virunga National Park and Kahuzi Biega National Park

GORILLA FACTS FAQs