Gorilla defense mechanisms and predators : Defense mechanisms are defined as unintentional psychological mechanisms that bring down anxiety from an intolerable harmful stimulus. Mountain gorillas also have a number of defense mechanisms in order to keep themselves safe, Mountain Gorillas have stocky bodies and are undeniably huge in size but doesn’t make them immune from predators and other external threats. Their commonest predators are leopards and humans, and although the former have the capability of killing the mountain gorillas it is usually difficult since gorillas live in families/groups. Leopards being tree-climbing predators take advantage of this to attack mountain gorillas especially at night when they are quite unaware.

Humans are the biggest enemies of mountain gorillas where they are captured in traps or suffer from gunshots. In some areas especially the Democratic Republic of Congo, the mountain gorillas are poached for meat hence making them to develop several defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanisms of mountain gorillas

Beating their chests.

The first reaction of mountain gorillas to fear or any intolerable harm is beating their chest and stumping feet while making loud sound/hoots. This is done to create fear within the predator and alert other members of the group/family to run to safety. It is the duty of the dominant silverback to fight and defend the other members of the family and sometimes even leading to death. Silverbacks sometimes go as far as breaking vegetation and in the process scaring away the enemy.

Gorilla defense mechanisms and predators
Beating Chest

Standing upright to appear taller and bigger.

Another interesting defense mechanism for mountain gorillas is standing upright to appear bigger and taller, thus scare away the predators.

Their strong hands.

Mountain gorillas generally have stocky bodies with strong hands that they use while fighting their predators-especially leopards. Their hands also ease locomotion and aid them while lifting or crushing large objects. Relatedly, the huge size of mountain gorillas scares their enemies. The dominant silverbacks normally weigh more than females and when it comes to size, they are also bigger than their enemies-humans and leopards thus defense mechanism.

Displaying and exposing their strong canine teeth.

When faced with danger, mountain gorillas also charge while exposing and displaying their strong canine teeth to scare away their enemy. Their canine teeth can even cause death of their opponent, especially if inflicted with deep wounds.

Building strong ties around silverbacks.

Just like fathers in typical home setting, dominant silverbacks are considered the defenders of their respective gorilla families/groups. Females and infants usually build strong ties around silverbacks for defense or when infants are threatened.

Always moving and gathering in groups.

Mountain gorillas also defend themselves by always living and moving in groups. United we stand and divided we fall applies to gorilla groups. It is easier for mountain gorillas to fight their common enemy especially poachers and leopards when silverbacks join hands yet a lone silverback can easily be killed by an enemy.

The population of endangered mountain gorillas currently stands at about 1063 individuals and trekking them is conducted within three countries. Uganda offers two gorilla trekking destinations, Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks with a total of 21 habituated gorilla groups, Rwanda (where they are trekked within Volcanoes National Park) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (trekked within Virunga National Park), Gorilla defense mechanisms and predators

Mountain gorilla predators.

When you come across mountain gorillas in the jungles, you will be left to think that these apes can’t be threatened considering their massive bodies. But the fact is that, these primates have predators that threaten them in their natural habitat. Naturally, mountain gorillas are intelligent, social yet also emotional. Though mountain gorillas are humble, their survival still remains threatened yet they are a few creatures with low production rate. Below are the greatest predators threatening them.


On the other hand, humans have also become threatening factor because of the numerous activities. Humans have continuously encroached gorilla environment for various reasons including farming, illegal hunting or poaching, wars and these have contributed to loss of these apes’ habitat.

Humans are threat to mountain gorillas since they are capable of spreading infectious diseases. These primates aren’t safe because they share at least 98% of their genetic DNA with humans. Climate change has also proven to be a main threatening factor to mountain gorilla habitat and this is largely caused by human activities.


Leopards are considerably the main predators to mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Leopards are smart and being carnivorous animals, they are capable of killing a grown up mountain gorilla. They also have ability to climb the tree which makes safety of mountain gorillas hard even when they try to seek safety up the trees.

Usually, leopards target the young and not the mature adult silverbacks. But they can hunt down the Western lowlands.


Crocodiles are among the mountain gorilla predators. They wait for gorillas around the water banks and they lay an attack on them when to confine to drink water though mountain gorillas rarely drink water. At times, the crocodiles can wait for gorillas in wetlands. Interestingly, mountain gorillas have defensive skills. As soon as a predator is detected, mountain gorillas can alert others of danger. The family members collect around their leader/dominant silverback whose duty is to protect others from such dangers.

Gorilla defense mechanisms and predators
Gorilla defense mechanisms and predators

Females together with males can build strong ties and this is how they can defend themselves from the enemies. Where the intruder fails to vacate, the dominant silverback is capable of confronting him. If the black backs exist in the gorilla group, they can lead the rest of from the predators or even attack the enemy collectively.

Note: Trekking mountain gorillas requires all holidaymakers to present a valid gorilla permits and the prices are not the same. In Uganda, you should be prepared with about US Dollar 700 to book for a gorilla permit and about US $1500 for Rwanda gorilla permits and about US $450 for the Congo permits. the age limit is 15 years and above for the interested personnel’s to carry out gorilla trekking and these permits can arranged for you by a well trusted Uganda safari company.

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