The Dominant Silverback | Gorillas

The Dominant Silverback | Gorillas 

The Dominant Silverback | Gorillas : are dominant male primates native to Africa and live high in the forested mountains. They are basically the largest and strongest among all primates and share a lot in common with the human including the 98% DNA. Adult male mountain gorillas are called silverbacks because of the silver saddle of hair on their backs that indicate maturity. In fact, only the male gorillas are the ones able to become silverbacks at the age of eight years. However, at the age of 13 years, male mountain gorillas become silverbacks and only the silverback can lead a troop.


Besides, gorillas have a stocky body comprising of a broad chest, long and muscular arms plus wide feet and hands. Their arms are generally longer than their legs and live in groups called families or troops. In addition, each troop is typically composed of 2 to 30 members, 1 to 4 are male adults, and the rest are black backs. As a matter of fact, each gorilla family has a silverback as the leader who fights and defends the family.

Strength may be determined in various ways including engaging in fights with other silverbacks to prove that they rule or lead a group in the forest. Interestingly, silverbacks weigh approximately 350 pounds nearly twice the weight of a normal adult man. Their hands are longer than the legs and these hands give a lot of support to the rest of the body weight. 

Feeding and behavior 

Being the leader and the biggest in the group, the silverback eats twice as much as an adult female since it performs more tasks in the group. They are mainly herbivores, eat only plants and they spend most of their time foraging for food. In addition since they move place to place in search for food, they cannot control one area.

Gorillas basically build new nests each day at dusk, constructing them with various materials. These range from bent tree branches to grasses on the ground since they are nomadic species. They are very shy and gentle animals however, they can become very aggressive and violent when threatened or disturbed. Their charging usually involves beating their chests, making loud grunts and hoots as a way of protecting the family. Other charging displays include; standing erect on his hind legs, tearing up, throwing plants. Drumming the chest with his hands or fists, stamping his feet, striking the ground with his palms, etc.  


Silverbacks are widely known for their integrity due to their means of communication such as vocalizations, facial expressions, body language, etc. They also display many human-like behaviors and emotions such as sadness and laughter. This makes them our closest cousins after the chimpanzees and bonobos. Fights amongst them are normally thunderous and cause a lot of injuries and at times resulting to deaths.  Regardless the heavy weights of the silverbacks, they are flexible and capable of climbing and swinging on trees in the forest.

Where to see gorillas/silver backs in Uganda

On your trip to Uganda you can spot and trek this marvelous largest primate only in Bwindi and Mgahinga forest National Park.

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