A trek to view mountain gorillas in the wild is such a captivating wildlife experience you can’t find anywhere else on earth except only in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). But what should one do when a mountain gorilla charges? Well, before you set off to search for the gorilla family assigned to you in a group of 8 trekkers, you will be briefed and besides, carry out adequate research on how mountain gorillas behave not to face challenges on actual trek.
The fact is that mountain gorillas are calm creatures but when irritated, they can charge against you. They behave more like humans. Like humans, mountain gorillas can be aggressive or charge and they do so as way of expressing their anger and reflects their readiness to defend their family members. Mountain gorillas live in groups and worldwide, they exist only in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in the Northern Province of Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in Eastern DRC. 98% of the mountain gorillas’ DNA is similar to that of humans thus making them the closest human relatives in the wild. Before setting off on actual trek, trekkers are briefed by the park ranger guide on rules and regulations and most importantly, you will be briefed on what to do when gorillas charge.
All gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda, Rwanda and DRC are only done in habituated gorilla families. Despite this fact, mountain gorillas can charge against you depending on a number of factors/reasons which include among others in case they feel threatened, if they spot predators like leopards, when they encounter another gorilla group and they want to take away some of the members. Like humans, the mood of these creatures too keeps changing and probably you may land on the day when they are not interested in meeting with human being or they were already threatened, the presence of humans can be looked at another threat hence they charge against you as a way to defend themselves.
Tips on what to do when a mountain gorilla charges on you
Observe the safety measures briefed to you
Always pay keen attention to the set guidelines while on a gorilla safari in their homes. Before you set off to trek mountain gorillas, the park official takes you through the set gorilla trekking guidelines/safety measures/rules and regulations. The set safety measures play a significant role-not only towards safeguarding mountain gorillas but also visitors. There are a number of rules and regulations trekkers should observe and they include among others no use of flashlight camera, stand still in case the gorillas charge against you, keep a distance of 7 meters away from mountain gorillas, keep your voices low while on a trek to see mountain gorillas.
In case a mountain gorilla charges against you, make sure that you become submissive. Bow down your head to show some respect and being submissive. In case mountain gorillas get close to you, never touch and avoid direct eye contact.
Avoid direct eye contact
When mountain gorillas charge against you, avoid direct eye contact. Direct eye contact is an indication that you are ready to challenge them and they end up attacking you as away to protect themselves. Note, mountain gorillas are muscular and they are stronger than humans.
Pretend to be a gorilla too
At least for the first time, when gorillas charge against you, try to pretend to be like a mountain gorilla. You can do this by opening your mouth and showing your teeth while shouting back, beating the chest. This will make them ignore you and assume you are their colleague.
Always keep a distance of 7 meters
Before setting off on actual trek, one of the rules and regulations you be advised to observe is keeping a distance of 7 meters. Even when mountain gorillas come close to you, make sure you avoid any body contact with them.
Walk away steadily
In case gorillas turn aggressive, do not run simply walk away gently. Running may compel these apes to follow you and they end up causing harm to you or your group members. Just walk away stepping backwards slowly and never get closer to them because they may assume you are getting close to attack them.