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SILVERBACK GORILLA – The strongest primate 

SILVERBACK GORILLA – The strongest primate 

What is a silverback gorilla?

A silverback gorilla is a term used to refer to a male gorilla that has reached full maturity (adulthood), when a male gorilla reaches the stage of adulthood it develops a slivery gray lining on its back (the hairs on his back become slivery gray).

This is so similar in humans who develop grey hair in their late adulthood, however unlike humans, the female gorillas do not get the silvery grey back. It is only the males. 

The slivery gray back of the male gorilla looks silvery (it contrasts beautifully with the dark black of the rest of the body), the silvery gray lining us the origin of the name “Silverback gorilla”. 

A male gorilla attains the title of a “Silverback” between the age of 13 – 15 years, before attaining this status the male gorilla goes through stages of growth. 

  • Infant (0 – 4 years) – at this stage the male is still dependent on the month still breastfeeding 
  • Juvenile (4-6 years) – the male has been weaned by the mother and becomes semi – independent. 
  • Adolescence (6 – 8 years) – at this stage, the males are not yet sexually active 
  • Sub – adult (8 – 10 years) – at this stage, the males have become sexually active
  • Blackback Male (10 – 13 years) – at this age, males are sexually mature but not fully mature physically 
  • Silverback Male (13+ year) – at this stage, the male is fully mature and can get the status of a silverback  

What is the Size of the Silverback Gorilla?

The silverback gorilla is the biggest primate in the world, by the age of 13 years the male gorillas have now turned into silverbacks, they grow tremendously in size thus achieving a size that is twice that of the adult female gorilla.

The Silverback can reach a standing height of over 5 feet (1.5 meters) and weigh up to 450 pounds (204 kg).

What is the Strength of the Silverback gorilla?

 One of the most asked question by travelers is “How strong is a silverback gorilla”, well the silverback gorilla is physically the strongest of the apes. 

The strength of a silverback is estimated to be equivalent to the strength of 8 grown men. A silverback can easily dismember you by ripping your limbs off your body with no effort, just holding onto a part of your body such as an arm or leg would crush your bones in an instant. 

Normally, a silverback fights by drilling his extremely powerful jaws into the fresh of the opponent and will instantly tear their flesh and crush the bones. 

Is the Silverback gorilla aggressive (how dangerous is it)?

Gorillas are naturally docile primates that do not love violence, peace means so much to them which is so different with the fellow primates the chimpanzees.

Even with the immense strength they possess, the silverback gorilla rarely engages in aggressive encounters whether with a fellow gorillas or any wild animal.

The only thing which can push a silverback to aggressive fight is if his group or authority is being threatened, the silverback’s first reaction is too flee from any aggressive situation. This non – aggressive nature of the silverback gorillas has earned them “the Gentle Giant” title. 

What do Silverback gorillas eat? 

Generally, gorillas are vegetarian feeding on leaves, fruits, stems and roots of shrubs. The gorillas have also been observed to feed on insects or bugs that supplement on the vegetarian diet to give them vital nutrients such as proteins and essential minerals which they might not get in vegetation. 

Do the gorillas eat meat? It is rare for the gorillas to eat meat, there is only one incident noted when the gorillas eat meat and it is really bizarre. Gorillas are noted to eat their dead babies, this bizarre incident has been explained as way the gorillas can dispose-off their dead baby’s body so that no prey gets to taste the baby gorilla. This way they are protecting their live infants from interest of other preys in the jungle. 

What are the responsibilities of the silverback? 

The silverback is the dominant gorilla in each gorilla group or family, he is the leader and the protector of that particular group. 

The dominant silverback directs the daily activities of the group, he leads the search of food and determines where and when to spend the night in the jungle. Also has the priority right to mate with the females. 

Note: There can more than one silverback gorilla in a group but only one of these is the dominant and the leader. Other silverback gorillas within the group may challenge the dominant silverback for leadership and if successful can take over the group.

This normally happens when the dominant silverback has grown so old and frail and other potential silverback feel like they can challenge him and win. The silverback can also be challenged by a lone silverback wondering in the jungle looking for a group to take over.

Where to see the Silverback Gorillas 

Gorillas are rare wildlife species endemic to the African continent, there are two species of gorillas that is the western gorillas found in Western Africa and the Eastern gorillas found in central and Eastern Africa.

The Eastern gorillas (mountain gorillas) are the most popular of the gorillas thanks to gorilla trekking which is only offered in Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Mountain gorillas can be seen in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda and Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo.  

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