WHY DO SILVERBACK GORILLAS FIGHT?
The endangered mighty mountain gorillas dwelling in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and the Virunga Park of Democratic Republic of Congo clearly portray the mighty work of God.
Species that are so rare, very huge and strong yet still humble are a real wonder in the African gigantic jungles. Several mountain gorillas are habituated in these parks and are now very familiar with human beings, so gorilla trekking doesn’t interfere with their day to day experiences like playing, feeding, grooming and travelling as close as 7 meters away from the trekkers.
Mountain gorillas live in troops led by a dominant male gorilla called a silverback gorilla. He controls and protects his family as any other leader would do. These are gentle wild apes that are calmly living in the thick forests on the Virunga chain of volcanoes, however, they are good fighters in any case, and below are the rare cases why silverback gorillas fight.
Silverback gorillas are very innocent and gentle wild animals. They don’t frequently fight, in most cases they express their behavior through pounding their chests and loud hooting. Fighting is not even an option for solving their problems.
In most cases, silverbacks can only fight when they are in fighting moods, if in their lazy moods, they simply ignore simple things them being very gentle animals. The sharp canines’ teeth and their great strength makes them very dangerous animals when in fighting moods.
Silverback gorillas also when they are threatened by another group. Occasionally, when two gorilla families meet, the dominant silverbacks usually fight to death using their sharp canine teeth to deeply injure the other one. This is to prove their worth, and in most cases, the silverback that wins, takes on even the second group and they merge into one gorilla family.
A silverback also fights just to protect his family members. Him being in charge as the troop leaders, he has to ensure that his family is safe and sound. Anything that appears like a threat to the family has to be fought against early enough. A silverback can easily give up his life for the safety of his family. That is how strong their solidarity is.
Silverbacks still fight their predators like the leopards, forest elephants and human beings. Just like human beings get scared after seeing an unusual figure, also gorillas get scared on sighting moving features that don’t look like them and this is what pushes them to fight.
At times the dominant silverbacks fight silverbacks from other gorilla families when they want to conquer that group. Silverbacks are naturally aggressive animals that would fight to death just to ensure that they are in charge of any group desired. Alternatively, a dominant silverback can also fight a blackback (a young male gorilla) that seems to be a threat to his position in the troop.
Note that silverbacks also attach people sometimes when disturbed. This is the major reason for gorilla trekking briefing where the trekkers are cautioned on the dos and don’ts while in the forest with the gorillas to avoid the gorilla charge. Trekkers are usually advised not to get so close to the silverbacks as they would easily think that you want to fight them. Also trekkers are only allowed to take as many pictures as possible provided the flash is off because this would again scare the gorillas.
There are also other minor and rare cases where the silverbacks would fight, like when they are angry at each other and competing for a wife or food. But it’s not their nature to fight.