The 1933 appearance of giant ape King Kong as a gorilla on the silver screen displayed one of the real gorilla behavior, chest-beating, to the world. Male gorillas usually best their chests and many scientists have taken time to understand this action. Why do male gorillas beat their chests? is a top question in understanding this action.
Beating their chests could look like an act of violence, however, it is showed by research that the behavior may actually prevent violence between the massive animals.
Edward Wright, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany stated that “It can be a bit frightening. You don’t want to get in the way.”
In the research, it was found out that the biggest mountain gorillas produced sounds with lower frequencies than smaller gorillas. This means that chest-beating isn’t just a visual display, but what the study calls an “honest signal of competitive ability”
With the fact that the gorillas are equipped with gigantic muscles and long canine teeth but they rarely come to blows, Wright believes that this is at least partly because chest-beating allows males to size each other up without getting physical.
How dangerous are gorillas to humans? – Why do male gorillas beat their chests?
The best and only way to see gorillas in Africa is by trekking which involves hiking on foot and therefore being that these are wild animals there could be thought to be dangerous or violent to human beings.
Due to the fact that with gorilla trekking you walk through the jungle, many tourists on either Uganda gorilla safaris, Rwanda gorilla tours, or gorilla trekking in Congo, should be aware of how violent mountain gorillas can be dangerous to humans.
Africa is popular for lots of fearsome predators including lions, hyenas, and many more but luckily mountain gorillas are not part of them. Mountain gorillas are habituated before they are opened to tourists for trekking.
During habituation, gorillas are taken through a long process where they get familiar with the presence of humans as rangers spend time with the gorillas for about 2 years until the gorillas get unbothered with the presence of people.
After the rangers realize that the gorillas are familiar with humans, other people including researchers and guides are brought to meet the gorillas and if the gorillas pass this test then they are opened up to tourists for trekking.
When you go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, the ranger guides go with you to the jungle to ensure that you are safe since they are much familiar with the gorillas. A total of 8 tourists are allocated 2 armed ranger guides to ensure their safety in the forest.
Being habituated gorillas have been carefully exposed to human presence and have learned that humans are not a threat. However, they are still cautious and act according to your reaction to them.
In case the gorillas feel unsafe they may react since they are still wild animals though there are no recorded cases of when mountain gorillas have gone violent on humans during trekking.
Your ranger guide will take you through the precautions and what is required of you in case gorillas get upset with your presence
Things that make gorillas violent – Why do male gorillas beat their chests?
What triggers gorillas to act in defense include being surprised or feeling threatened. Things like beating your chest and looking into the gorilla eyes directly like you are picking up a fight can make them feel threatened.
How do you tell a mountain Gorilla is getting violent?
If they feel threatened, a silverback mountain gorilla may react by making bluff charges, beating on his chest with aggressive sounds, or running directly towards their target.
When the silverback gorilla charges towards someone in most cases it will stop just a few feet away just to wait for the target reaction. Make sure you do not react like you are picking a fight.
Though a rare occurrence, you should be aware of what to do in case of the gorilla charges towards you since you definitely can’t fight this massive size of a giant.
The most appropriate reaction is that you crouch down slowly, look away and act casual/with no intentions of threat. In this way, the gorilla will see you as non-threatening and therefore will move away and return to their family.
Gorilla trekking is one of the most amazing primates to track and safaris can be tailored on any other kind of tour. Gorilla trekking can be tailored with a Kenya safari or wildlife safari in Tanzania is an amazing way of having a truly authentic African experience.