What to do if a mountain gorilla in Bwindi charges
What to do if a mountain gorilla in Bwindi charges: Mountain gorillas are endangered species of primates that share 98% DNA with human beings. Mountain gorillas are wild animals even though they are close relatives to human beings. Mountain gorillas are said to be gentle and peaceful apes when you meet them in the jungle but this doesn’t guarantee a safe trek especially if you fail to keep the rules and regulations of the trekking activity.
A lot of travelers visit Bwindi impenetrable forest national park from different parts of the world to mainly encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitats and they always hope for a successful safari. This is however not a guarantee because you might find the gorillas in bad moods or you may seem like a threat especially to the silverback which is always the head of the gorilla family.
A mountain gorilla family is led by a silverback which provides security to the members and makes sure each gorilla is safe. In case a silverback is insecure with human presence around its members, the next thing it does is do anything to protect its members. When a silverback feels insecure, it does make loud grants, hoots, stands on two hind legs, and pounds its chest to scare away the enemy. If the enemy refuses to move away, it can break down plants and tear them down.
Things to do when a mountain gorilla in Bwindi charges
While trekking mountain gorillas, there are certain things that can make a mountain charge whether you keep following the rules and regulations of the trekking activity or not. These are the two things we think you can do to save yourself from a gorilla attack when it charges at you.
Crouch down: When a mountain gorilla charges, armed ranger guides will advise you to crouch down, keep silent, and show respect to the gorilla. By crouching down, a mountain gorilla will know that you are very peaceful and you have not come to harm it. Another thing is if you crouch down on your knees, a mountain gorilla will think that you have not come to challenge it so it will move away and won’t attack you.
Walk away steadily: Walk away slowly but don’t run when a mountain gorilla in Bwindi charges at you. You are not allowed to run when a mountain gorilla in Bwindi charges at you because if you try to do it will also run at you. If a mountain gorilla runs after you there are high chances that it will attack you. Just walk away from the mountain gorilla to create a big distance from it so that it cools down.
Act like a gorilla: When a mountain gorillas charges, act like it by moving on four legs. You can pluck leaves, break and pretend to eat grass while avoiding looking directly into its eyes. When it comes near you and finds you eating vegetation, it will just move away.
What to do to avoid mountain gorillas from charging
To avoid Bwindi gorilla charges, you need to simply follow the rules and regulations of gorilla trekking as taught at the briefing Centre by the park wardens. Before heading out to the jungle to search for mountain gorillas, park wardens gather all participants and teach them different rules and regulations of the gorilla trekking activity which you must follow around mountain gorillas.
- Don’t touch a mountain gorilla
- Use a camera that doesn’t have flashlights when taking pictures
- Never look directly in the eyes of a mountain gorilla
- Avoid wearing bright colored clothes such as yellow when going for trekking
- Keep a distance of 7 meters away from mountain gorillas
- Keep the voices very low while around mountain gorillas
Why do mountain gorillas charge?
Mountain gorillas do charge when a silverback Gorilla from another group or a solitary gorilla silverback tries to conquer the family or is trying to steal the family members. The mountain gorillas do charge to scare it or prevent it from stealing the group members which even in most times ends in fights.
Mountain gorillas can charge when they get trekkers after a long period of no visit. If a habituated mountain gorilla family takes time without being trekked they slowly forget to get used to the human presence around them and therefore they can see trekkers as enemies thereby charging.
When trekkers make unnecessary movements around the mountain gorillas, they can charge thinking these people want to harm them. Mountain gorillas will therefore charge to scare away the trekkers.
When you fail to keep a distance and come very close to a mountain gorilla family, it can charge therefore as taught at the briefing center, try to keep a distance of 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas.
Taking pictures of mountain gorillas using a camera that has a flashlight makes the mountain gorillas charge. Your local tour operator will tell you to come with a camera that doesn’t have a flash or even at the briefing centre, you will be taught about it.
Looking directly into the eyes of mountain gorillas can make them charge because they will feel uncomfortable
Mountain gorillas in Bwindi are very likely to charge when you make noise around them. Trekkers are told to keep their voices very low while around mountain gorillas during the briefing at the sector offices.
You might follow the rules and regulations of the mountain gorilla trekking activity and still mountain gorillas charge at you but if they do so, your armed ranger guides will guide you on what to do if you forget what has been taught to you at the briefing Centre.
In conclusion, mountain gorilla trekking is a one in a lifetime experience every traveler would want to be part of so that they encounter mountain gorillas in their natural habitats. In Bwindi impenetrable forest national park, mountain gorillas are seen in Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Rushaga. These trekking regions altogether have the highest population of mountain gorillas in the whole world.
Mountain gorillas of Bwindi and other gorilla parks such as volcanoes national park, Mgahinga national park, and Virunga national parks are very peaceful primates although endangered and every traveler would want to spend some time with them in their natural habitats. Searching for mountain gorillas involves moving deep into the jungles and the moment you find them, you are given 1 hour to be around them and this enables you to learn about their habits and watch them carry out their daily activities.
Travelers planning to visit Bwindi impenetrable forest national park should note that to encounter these endangered apes you need a gorilla permit which is a card from the Uganda Wildlife Authority a government body in charge of tourism in the country. Gorilla permits cost $700 for foreign non-residents, $600 for foreign residents, and UGX250,000 for East African citizens.