What to do when a gorilla charges at you

What to do when a gorilla charges at you: Gorillas are highly sought after primate species in Africa, with Mountain gorillas being at the top of the list. Mountain gorillas are considered as the largest primates in the world and they are usually very peaceful, calm and only show signs of aggression when they feel threatened. Gorillas actually have quite a charming character which makes them interesting primates to visit while on your safari in Africa.

A sub-adult mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) charging through the forest, Parc de Volcanos, Rwanda, Africa

Visitors who wish to see mountain gorillas can do so only in four national parks in the world which include; Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gorilla trekking tours in Africa involve visitors hiking in dense forests and tracking down a group of gorillas through their fecal matter/poop, fresh footprints and food leftovers. A group of gorilla trekkers usually consists of a maximum of eight members and are accompanied by a park guide or ranger. Once a gorilla group has been located, trekkers are only given an hour to spend with the gorillas.

Gorillas are herbivores that live in the tropical rainforests and in high altitude or elevation areas in Africa. Mountain gorillas live in groups of 2 to 30 individuals and the group is normally led or dominated by a male gorilla also known as a silverback and composed of female gorillas, juveniles and babies. The silverback determines the feeding time or place of the family and also defends and offers protection of his family in case of insecurity with other gorillas or humans in their presence.

During gorilla trekking you might find when the gorillas are in a bad mood or even seem as a threat to the gorillas and when they detect danger the gorillas can react by making loud grunts, hoots, buoys itself, stands on two hind legs and pounds its chest. Once the threat persists the silverback grabs anything and tears it down as a form of protection to the family.

Gorillas charge due to various reasons such as loud noises from the visitors, sudden movements while in their presence, direct contact with the gorillas among others which pose as a threat to the family therefore end up charging so as to protect the families from strangers, poachers, charge or fight to win females and charge in case they want to break off from the family because any gorilla family cannot have two male gorillas therefore they fight for leadership and the winner takes over the family and the defeated goes to form a new family.

 What to do if a Gorilla charges at you.

Mountain gorillas are strong and the silverbacks can do anything to defend and protect their families in case of a threat. Visitors should do the following in case a gorilla charges at you;

  • Crouch down

When a gorilla charges during gorilla trekking, it’s advisable to be calm, quiet, respectful and unthreatening by bending down, lowering yourself to the ground and making yourself smaller than the silver. This will show the silverback that you are not a challenger and it will not see any reason to fight you.

  • Walk away steadily

When the gorilla is charged, you are advised not to run away because the gorilla will run after you and attack you rather you are advised to create distance between you and the gorilla without making sudden movements, step back slowly and get off the scene. You can also fall down on the ground to indicate that it has already defeated you or look disinterested by pretending to do your own work like relaxing or looking at the trees.

  • Follow your guide what he /she tells you

Before starting trekking in the jungle, visitors are briefed at the starting point about the expectations, dos and don’ts while with the gorillas in the wild. Visitors going for gorilla trekking in any of the national park go with an armed park ranger who will tell them what to do while in the presence of the gorilla family. Park rangers understand their moods and know the irritation level and temperament of each gorilla family therefore Visitors are advised on how to behave in case the gorillas become wild while in their presence.

  • Never look directly into the Gorilla eyes

Gorillas are shy primates and after charging visitors should not look directly into the gorillas eyes because it shows that you are ready to challenge the gorilla therefore the gorilla will attack you. Visitors are therefore advised not to look directly into their eyes but rather pretend to be disinterested and start doing your own work.

  • Show your teeth and shout back

Showing of your teeth and shouting back to a charged gorilla is done in case you are very close to a gorilla with no chance of steeping back. You will be advised to scream or shout loud and thump your chest just like the charged gorilla and the shouting will scare away the gorilla and also show that you are another wild gorilla.

  • Pretend to be an ape

When you have tried all other options and nothing seems to be working out, be brave and behave like another ape in the wild by coming towards a charged gorilla, start plucking leaves, breaking and chewing vegetation, napping on the ground to show the gorilla that you are not hostile and aggressive.

  • Keep Distance

While trekking gorilla families in the jungle, visitors should keep 7 meters distance from the gorillas and shouldn’t touch them except when they touch you because they are wild animals and getting close to them will make them charge and might hurt or fight you while trying to defend themselves and their families.

If you follow the above steps when faced with the unfortunate incident of having a gorilla/silverback charge at you, you will surely come out unharmed. It is important for trekkers to follow the set of rules and regulations of gorilla trekking that are given to you by the head guide at the park. This will come in handy and help you have a smooth gorilla trekking experience.

Visitors interested in gorilla trekking in Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo must first purchase a gorilla trekking permit at a fee of USD 600- USD 700 dollars per person in Uganda, USD 1500 in Rwanda, and USD 400 in Congo.

Contact us and book your gorilla trekking tour in Uganda, Rwanda or Congo.

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