Yes, fighting for his family is one of the key roles of a silverback gorilla. A silverback gorilla is a dominant adult male gorilla, the dad, overseer and protector of the entire gorilla family comprised of females and baby gorillas. A close encounter with a silverback is undeniably a dream come true for most if not all travelers visiting trek gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The silver hair at the back distinguishes a silverback gorilla from other adult gorillas in a family. a silverback gorilla head a gorilla family comprised of between 8 to 30 members comprised of babies, juveniles and females. He has the right to mate with all adult females in a gorilla family with no restriction. Whenever a silverback gorilla senses any form of insecurity, he charges by beating the chest and making loud hoots to scare away strangers. When it’s about protecting his family, a silverback gorilla can fight to the death. Most silverbacks have died in fights to protect their families. Among the reasons why the silverback gorillas fight includes:
To protect their families
The common reason why silverback gorillas fight is to protect their families from strangers including poachers and lone silverbacks who want to start up families. If the silverback does not fight, his entire family can be taken away leading to the collapse of his family.
In other instances, a silverback fights when he wants to break off from his father’s family. There cannot be two adult male gorillas in one family but they must fight and whoever wins takes over. The defeated silverback leaves the group to start his own by grabbing adult females and babies from different other groups. It starts by being a loner and thereafter begins to grab adult females and babies from other groups to make his own family.
Fighting for females
Females are such a treasure in all kinds of life that even silverback gorillas fight to win them. One silverback has a right to own all adult females in the family and hence cannot allow any male gorilla to come close to females. Any attempt by a different silverback to come closer to females will automatically erupt into a fight. A dominant silverback mate will all adult females hence he is the father of all baby gorillas in the family. Just like in a human home, there can’t be two fathers in one home.
What to do when a silverback charges
In rare cases, gorillas charge in the presence of visitors when they feel insecure around them. Among the things you should do when a silverback gorilla charges include:
• Stay calm and do not react
• Crouch down and move backward
• Act like an ape
• Submit, do not show like you want to fight back
• Stay quiet, do not shout back
Other facts about mountain gorillas
It’s essential to extensively understand basic facts about endangered mountain gorillas. Among the things you should know about mountain gorillas include:
1. Mountain gorillas live in families of between 8 to 30 members comprised of a silverback, females and baby gorillas
2. Mountain gorillas are vegetarians who feed on leaves, flowers, shoots, and fruits.
3. They are nomadic animals, which are ever on move in search of fresh foods and locations. A gorilla family cannot stay in one place for 2 nights.
4. Mountain gorillas share 99.9% of human genes hence the close relatives to people. Also, the human-like characteristics of gorillas make them more of human beings.
5. They are endangered species that almost got extinct in the 1980s. The world today has 1004 mountain gorillas dwelling in the rain forest of Bwindi, Mgahinga, Virunga, and Volcanoes National parks.
6. Mountain gorillas live in two regions, which are the Bwindi Impenetrable forest National Park and the Virunga massif.
7. A baby gorilla is born weighing roughly 4.5 pounds and it depends on its mum for breast milk.
8. Silverback mountain gorillas have grey/silver hair at the back.
9. The lifespan of mountain gorillas is 54 years
10. The gestation period for adult female gorillas is 8-9 months just like for humans
11. Female mountain gorillas start breeding at 10 years
12. Mountain gorillas hardly drink water; they depend on water contained in plants they eat.
13. Mountain gorillas have names. Each gorilla in a family has a different name that describes him, or her from other gorillas
14. Mountain gorillas are scientifically called Gorilla beige beringei
Gorilla groups in Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo
As said already, mountain gorillas are habituated into groups with varying number of members. Uganda has the highest number of gorilla families, followed by Rwanda and then Congo.
Gorilla groups in Uganda
The pearl of Africa is home to 18 gorilla families habituated for trekking. 16 of these live in Bwindi impenetrable forest National Park while 1 family liv in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Uganda gorilla families in Bwindi are split into the four sectors of Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. These include Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Nshongi, Bitukura, Nkuringo, Bweza, Katwe, Christmas Nyakegyezi, Oruzogo, Kyaguliro, Mishaya, Kahungye, and Busingye gorilla family. Each family is visited by a group of 8 people per day.
Gorilla families in Rwanda
Volcanoes National park is home to 10 habituated gorilla families. These are SusaA, Sabyinyo, Agashya, Umubabo, Kwitonda, Hirwa, Karisimbi, Ugenda, Bwenge and Titus Group.
Gorilla groups in Congo
Virunga national park has 8 habituated gorilla families, which are Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe and Bageni gorilla groups.
Gorilla trekking remains the number one wildlife experience in the world. Book a gorilla safari today, meet face to face with a silverback gorilla tour, learn and embrace their human-like behavior rewarding you with a memorable experience.
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