What to Do When a Gorilla Charges

Mountain Gorilla in Bwindi

Most tourists that have done gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and D. R. Congo testify the thrill that the experience frames. And yes, gorilla tours present amazing, stunning, exciting and moving experiences that are cherished for a lifetime.

Despite their formidable size, gorillas are gentle and calm apes in the jungle. However, this doesn’t always guarantee a safe trek all the time. Thousands of travelers flock Uganda, D. R. Congo and Rwanda to spot these critically endangered species for ultimate encounters, and they have indeed attained astonishing experiences that they are never going to forget in their lifetimes.

Though, if on an ill-fated day you encounter a gorilla that is in a bad mood, God forbid; what would be your next move? Or perhaps you just seem a threat to the silverback that can do anything to ensure the security and safety of its family?

Mountain gorillas are far stronger and faster than us, and in any case if they feel insecure with the humans’ presence, they are not afraid of defending their troops. Frequently when a silverback suspects a threat, it first makes loud grunts and hoots, it buoys itself and pounds its chest. And if the seemingly threat to the gorilla persists, then it can grab anything and tear it down to protect its family.

In such a case, just crunch down to show the gorilla that you are not a threat. Bend down and make yourself smaller than the silverback. It being a calm ape, it will understand that you are not a challenger and finds no reason to fight you.

But if it plods on moving closer to you, just turn away and fall gently on the ground as a indicator that it has already defeated you, if it further examines you, go limp, don’t engage in anyway and don’t make any sudden movements, though you can gradually distant yourself.

When a gorilla charges right in front you, don’t show it any interest, just pretend to be doing your usual work, maybe looking at the trees or even relaxing, but staying alert at the same time.  Just be submissive, calm, respectful and as unthreatening as possible.

In case a gorilla becomes more aggressive and you see that it is now very ready to grab you, start looking for all possible weapons that you can make out from the near places, such as pointed woods, stones, soda cans, and fire and glass bottles. Note that when confronting a gorilla, you should target the eyes.

If at a sufficient distance, run for your life and avoid confrontation. However if you had moved so close to the gorilla, gradually make some movements as you distance yourself from the silverback.

Withal, sometimes it also needs trekkers to imitate apes themselves if so close to the angry gorilla and there is no chance of backing out, then also just be brave like the gorilla. Show it the teeth and scream loud while pounding the chest just like the gorilla charging at you. Or also break and chew some vegetation, break some leaves and even nap on the ground to prove that you are not hostile.

And then always remember to follow the lead of the guide. Every trekking group is accompanied with an armed park ranger. And before the start of each trek, travelers are briefed on the Do’s and Don’ts while with the gorillas as the guides know the different temperaments of each gorilla group. So always follow the rules and regulations of the game rangers.

More to note, never look a gorilla directly in its eyes, don’t take flash photos of it, keep a distance and don’t pose any threat to it at all.

Otherwise, gorilla safaris in Africa offer prolific experiences that cannot be got anywhere else in the world.

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