Are lowland Gorillas Dangerous?
Lowland Gorillas in Congo are the western lowland gorillas, the largest of all the gorilla species. Found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this central African country is blessed to be the only country with both mountain and lowland gorillas. Mountain Gorillas are found in Virunga National Park whereas the lowland Gorillas are habituated in Kahuzi-Biega National Park. The lowland gorilla is scientifically known as Gorilla gorilla. The lowland gorillas are existent in the countries of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, and Cameroon. Western lowland gorillas live in smaller groups of 4 to 8 members. Even with small groups, they still don’t live in single lives.
When planning a Congo safari, the top bet is always Virunga National Park because of the mountain gorillas and the proximity to Rwanda and Uganda which have daily international flight. However, Lowland gorilla trekking is a better option for those who can not hike for a higher altitude. Kahuzi Biega National park is on an altitude ranging from 2,790-3,308 meters above sea level lower than Virunga which is on an altitude of 4,507 meters above sea level. Many tourists then wonder whether Lowland Gorillas are dangerous to human beings.
All Gorillas are typically, shy and reserved, a reason for the terming as gentle giants. Gorillas are not aggressive or readily set to cause harm to people. Generally, they are calm and only react if threatened or when a person behaves the wrong way they will attack. Behaving the wrong way, means you didn’t follow the Congo gorilla trekking safari rules and therefore made noise, beat your chest or did expose them to flash photography, this will get them cautious of whether you are peaceful or have come to cause harm.
Before a specific gorilla family is opened up for Congo gorilla trekking they go through a habituation process which involves carefully exposing them to humans a painstakingly slow process that takes about 3 years. This doesn’t mean they have become domestic animals, they are still wild animals and should be treated as so always.
wondering how to behave on a lowland gorilla trekking safari, your Congo gorilla safari ranger guide in the morning of your trek, will take you through the gorilla trekking Do’s and Dont’s and any safety precautions if need be. Even as you head for the trek, you go alongside an armed park ranger.
What to do in case you feel threatened by a lowland gorilla
First of all you can tell that a gorilla is feeling threatened when it reacts by making loud grunts and hoots at a distance. If you don’t move away or show “submission” it will escalate its threats by propping itself on its feet and pounding its chest at a very fast rate. By this time if you haven’t submitted yet, it will charge and attack you with scratches, strikes and try to pull you away. This all comes in as defense when the gorilla feels uneasy. A serious attack from a gorilla can only be to poachers and those who intentionally attack them.
When a gorilla charges towards you the best response is to crouch down, look away and act casual. They’ll see you as non-threatening and move on.
Kabuzi-Biega National Park where lowland Gorillas survive is in a politically unstable part of the country and therefore its advisable to always contact your tour operator on the security of the park before you set out on safari. How to react when a gorilla charges towards you is applicable for either a Rwanda gorilla trekking safari, Congo gorilla tour or Uganda gorilla safari , just always remember to follow the gorilla trekking rules.