Ever wondered how strong is a gorilla? How strong are silverbacks?
Gorillas, particularly silverbacks, are much stronger than any human being. Although mountain gorillas are strong primates, they generally exhibit gentle and placid behavior, preferring to laze around instead of causing problems or havoc.
However, they are capable of causing harm and damage to those who provoke or threaten them, such as poachers.
The gorilla families that visitors encounter in national parks are habituated and typically do not pose a threat to visitors unless they feel threatened or provoked, such as by constant flash photography.
Gorillas possess incredible strength, surpassing that of the average human. In fact, silverbacks can be stronger than 20 adult humans combined, capable of lifting or throwing objects up to 815 kilograms.
Even a well-trained human can only lift up to 400 kilograms, while an adult gorilla can lift up to 450 kilograms despite their body size, which can reach up to 200 kilograms.
Mountain gorillas have powerful jaws and can deliver a bite that can cause serious harm. Their large canines enable them to deliver a bite that is unmatched by most carnivores such as lions and crocodiles.
With a bite force of about 1,300 pounds per square inch, a gorilla’s bite is twice as powerful as that of a lion, which has a bite force of 650 pounds per square inch. It’s important to avoid playing with gorillas, especially near their ears, to prevent any harm or injury.
As gorillas primarily move on all fours, their arms are incredibly strong and possess a powerful grip that can easily tear down plantations. However, their strength is not solely attributed to their body build, as their diet and the amount they consume is equally important.
Mountain gorillas can consume up to 34 kilograms of food per day, which mainly consists of vegetation, fruits, and small insects such as ants. This diverse diet contributes significantly to their overall health and physical condition.
Like humans, gorillas also possess emotions and share 98% of their DNA with their human cousins. Mountain gorillas use around 25 different vocalizations to communicate, including distinct sounds for expressing excitement or warning of danger.
When threatened or attacked, they will scream or bellow, similar to human behavior. Gorillas can also express amusement through chuckles or giggles.
Chest thumping is a display of power and dominance, serving as a reminder to their opponents that they are strong and capable of winning.
Given the strength and capabilities of gorillas, it is essential to avoid getting on their wrong side. In the event of an attack by a silverback or any other large gorilla, it is recommended to bow your head in a submissive manner with your eyes downcast and remain calm.
It is equally important to follow your ranger guide’s instructions to ensure your safety.
Safety Tips During Wild Gorilla Watching
Here are some safety tips to remember:
- Remember to keep a distance of at least 7 meters away from the mountain gorillas. Getting too close to them could make them feel threatened and lead to aggression, even causing them to charge at you.
- Avoid surrounding the gorilla family when encountered. Instead, stay in your group and observe them from a safe distance. Surrounding them is seen as an attack and can provoke a response.
- Refrain from using flash photography with the gorillas as it can agitate and disturb them.
- Avoid staring directly into the eyes of mountain gorillas, as this can be perceived as a threat to them.
- Do not use any form of sign language, as gorillas may interpret it differently and become aggressive.
- Do not touch the gorillas, especially curious juveniles who may approach you to play. The mothers and dominant silverback are very protective and may attack if they feel their young are threatened.
- It is important to maintain silence while in the jungle and in the presence of gorillas to avoid any misinterpretation of sounds.