THE GENTLE GIANT OF AFRICA, ‘SILVERBACK GORILLA’
For those who have embarked on a Gorilla safari tour in Africa or even many who have bothered to research about these gentle primates, you must have heard of people or writers refer to a giant male mountain gorilla as a “Silverback”, but why call it by that name?
Silverback Gorillas are male alpha group leaders. They typically lead Gorilla groups or families comprising of 10 – 40 members with a clearly defined social structure and play very many roles in the day-to-day life of a Gorilla family they are heading.
These giant adult male mountain Gorillas derive their name “Silverback” from their silver saddle of hair on their backs. Generally, mountain Gorillas have a well-built body, with a broad chest, long, muscular arms and wide feet and hands and their arms are seen to be longer than their legs.
The dominant alpha is always there to protect and overlook all the activities of the entire group, they are the decision makers, they mediate conflicts, determine the movement of the group, and serve as mentors and protectors of the attire family especially the young and this increases their chances of survival during childhood.
Because mountain Gorillas are nomads, the dominant alpha leads his group and takes charge of making decisions on where they settle and where they find food. The silverback is always there to protect his family from various threats, whether from human beings or other wildlife. They are very huge and can easily scare away any threat by drumming on their chests and stamping their feet.
These critically endangered mountain Gorillas inhabit high in the mountains of protected parks and have been habituated for visitors interested in Gorilla trekking safaris and some of these game parks include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Forest National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda and the Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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