With only about 720 mountain gorillas left in the world, Uganda – having a little over half the worlds population of this highly endangered species – has stepped up efforts to involve the whole world in our conservation initiative. In doing so we hope to educate the public, spark your interest, and have you become a close friend of these endangered gentle giants.
Are Mountain gorillas dangerous animals?
This is a commonly asked question by first time gorilla trekkers but the answer is “No”, these creatures are completely not dangerous. Concerns for tourists’ safety during the life changing gorilla trekking adventure are always of paramount importance to the entire tourism industry. You will discover that lions, leopards, buffaloes, Hyenas and Hippos are more dangerous and feared animals during safaris but the Giant Apes are definitely not one of them.
It is important to note that the Mountain gorillas first undergo a period of habituation-carefully observed by a team of researchers to make them get used to the presence of humans in the wild, thus it is possible to face them at a closer encounter than it is with Lions, imagine meeting face to face with a lion. It is therefore clear that mountain gorillas are very comfortable to the presence of humans, but just like most wild animals, they may become aggressive if irritated.
It is also human nature to be in a defense mode when provoked or attacked and for these Giant Apes, they are easily triggered through threats or even mere surprises especially when it comes to their family thus the reason trekkers are always advised to avoid noise or startling them, so as to avoid their aggressiveness. Usually, the silverback’s response is charging by beating his chest, making loud sounds/noise and running around quickly then finally stopping at few meters away. When he discovers no threat to the family, he keeps calm and moves on with other activities.
Mountain gorillas are generally shy and laid-gentle giants which when visited in the jungles will be found foraging, playing and caring for their young ones. Nonetheless, their massive and sturdy body size should not scare you because they are one of the most peaceful animals you will ever encounter during safaris.
However, the mountain gorillas have continuously been victims of civil wars especially rebel activities within the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, poaching/hunting for bush meat, deforestation and habitat loss due to encroachment for settlement and agriculture. Much as mountain gorilla seem aggressive and tough from the outside, deep down they are actually sweet and gentle animals living their normal lives. When you don’t provoke them, they won’t react or become aggressive. Therefore, tourists are advised to maintain a distance of 7 meters away from them, avoid unnecessary movements and avoid making noise when in the presence of the mountain gorillas. Once they charge, submit by looking down or avoiding direct eye contact
Therefore the answer to whether mountain gorillas are dangerous to humans is no. They are actually friendly and relaxed vegetarians that inhabit the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga, Virunga and Volcanoes National Parks. They are shy and reserved towards humans and only attack if threatened.