Are Gorillas Friendly
Are gorillas Friendly? Yes, mountain gorillas are very friendly, peaceful, and gentle animals though they are giant, strong, muscular, and intelligent. Mountain gorillas can indeed be trained and they get very close to humans just like Dian Fossey an American primatologist who lived with mountain gorillas for the rest of her life until she was found dead in her cabin at Karisoke on 26 December 1985. Dian Fossey used to tell people that she felt more comfortable being with mountain gorillas than being around people.
Gorillas are friendly apes except if you go in their territory, offend them or hurt their infants. Gorillas become aggressive only when they feel disturbed and when they charge, they react by beating their chests, breaking ribs, vigorously, dragging, grunting louder and they will keep on throwing vegetation on you. if you don’t move away when gorillas charge, they can kill you.
Gorillas first undergo a habituation process to make sure they get used to human presence and this takes 2-3 years. When the rangers and researchers feel like they are ready for trekking they first take them through a mocking stage and when they pass it they are open for trekking.
Types / species of gorillas
There are two gorilla species in the world – the eastern gorilla and the western gorilla. The western gorillas differ from the eastern gorillas by the nose structure and they have light color than eastern gorillas.
The western gorillas are further subdivided into cross river gorillas and western lowland gorillas while the eastern gorillas are also divided into mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas.
The western lowland gorillas
Western lowland gorillas live in the lowland forests of west and central Africa in countries like Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, Cameroon, DR Congo, Gambon, and The Republic of Congo. They are the smallest subspecies of gorillas and have the highest population of all the four gorilla subspecies. it’s hard to estimate the remaining population of westerner gorillas but they are more than 350,000 surviving in the lowland forests of Africa. Western lowland gorillas can be seen in the zoos and national parks of the West and Central Africa differing from eastern gorillas by their reddish fur. The biggest threat to western lowland gorillas is human beings and the Ebola virus.
Cross River gorillas
These subspecies of mountain gorillas were classified as distinct subspecies in the year 2000 and are among the endangered animals by IUCN.
Cross River gorillas have found their homes in the forests of Cameroon and Nigeria. They are the most threatened gorilla species and less than 350n species are surviving in the wild. The biggest threat to cross river gorillas is habitat loss, genetic diversity, and poaching. Gorilla trekking of cross river gorillas is not possible and you can not see them in the zoos.
Eastern lowland gorillas
Eastern lowland gorillas stay in the eastern part of DR Congo. They are found in Kahuzi Biega national park, maiko national park, Odzala-Kokua national park as well as areas around the Itombwe massif. The eastern lowland gorilla is the largest of all gorilla types. Their biggest threat is poaching and habitat loss. About 7,500 eastern lowland gorillas are still surviving in the wild.
Mountain gorillas are subspecies of eastern gorillas found in Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo. They are not as big as the eastern lowland gorillas and they stay in the tropical forests at high elevations and on mountain slopes. Mountain gorillas have thick and long fur which protects them from the cold temperatures on the slopes of the mountain. Mountain gorillas can only be seen in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda which has 10 habituated gorilla families, Virunga National Park of DR Congo with 8 habituated gorilla families, Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with 20 habituated gorilla families, and Mgahinga national park with one habituated gorilla family in Uganda. The biggest threat to mountain gorillas is habitat loss and this comes as a result of continued human encroachment on forests and mountain slopes.
How much does it cost to trek gorillas?
Tourists who want to trek gorillas in Rwanda can do it at a fee of $1500, DR Congo at a fee of $450 in the high peak season and $200 in the low season, Uganda permits cost $700 for foreign nonresidents, $600 foreign residents, shs250,000 residents of East Africa. Gorilla habituation is also another thrilling activity done in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park at a fee of $1500 and allows you to spend a maximum of 4 hours around these gentle apes. Children below the age of 15 and people with infectious diseases such as flu, cough and diseases don’t trek.
What is the best time to trek gorillas?
Gorillas can be visited at any time of the year but the best time to visit these gentle and peaceful apes is during the dry season which occurs from June to September and December to January. It’s during these months that the roads are accessible and the trails are drier for trekking.
What to carry for gorilla trekking?
Gorilla trekking safari packing list includes good waterproof hiking boots, sunscreen, garden gloves, a lot of drinking water, a pair of gaiters, energy-giving snacks, long-sleeved clothes, face mask, sanitizer, a pair of binoculars, good quality camera and extra batteries, walking stick, insect repellents, and so much more.
Rules and regulations of gorilla trekking
Before tourists head out into the forest for gorilla trekking, they first move to the park headquarters to be taught about rules and regulations of gorilla trekking and these are set by the Uganda wildlife authority.
Before going departing for gorilla trekking
- A maximum of 8 people is allowed to trek a single gorilla family per day. Only 8 people are allowed to trek in order to minimize behavioral disturbance to the gorillas and also reduce the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases.
- People with infectious diseases such as cough, flu, and diarrhea will not be allowed to trek mountain gorillas
- Only people with a valid gorilla trekking permit from the Uganda wildlife authority will be allowed to trek gorillas as long as they are ages 15 and above.
- Trekkers must sanitize their hands, wear a face mask, keep the social distance before, during, and after trekking.
- Don’t leave rubbish n the park. Whatever you bring in the forest must be carried back with you such as rubbish, leftover food among others.
- When you are about to locate the gorillas, the trackers and rangers will tell you to get ready.
Only your way to mountain gorillas
- You are advised to keep low voices and also listen to the instructions from the guides as you trek through the thick forests.
- Don’t litter or leave rubbish in the park. Whatever you bring in the forest should be taken back with you.
- When you are 50 meters away from the mountain gorillas, the rangers will tell you to leave your equipment behind and only move to the mountain gorillas with cameras and phones.
When you are with mountain gorillas
- You should keep a distance of 7 meters from the gorilla family because the more you keep the distance the more relaxed the gorilla family will be.
- You are strongly advised to keep your voices even when asking the rangers some questions.
- You are advised to avoid close eye contact with mountain gorillas as this can force them to charge
- You must keep in your group when you allocate gorillas
- You are not allowed to drink, eat or smoke near gorillas as this will increase the risk of food/drink morsels/ droplets falling which could increase the risk of disease transmission.
- You are advised to use flashless cameras when taking gorillas pictures and this is because gorillas can feel threatened and can easily attack you.
- After spending some good time with gorillas keep your voices low until you are about 200 meters away from gorillas.