HabitatHow are wild Gorillas habituated to people?

How are wild Gorillas habituated to people?

  • Gorilla with tourist guide in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (© Christoph Lübbert)

Normally, gorillas are very shy. If they detect a person, even from a great distance, they often flee. Therefore habituating them to the presence (for behavioural observation or tourism) of humans is a very lengthy process. It usually takes several years. During this time, people approach the animals very carefully and spend increasing periods of time with them. Most important is that the silverback leading the group accepts the presence of people. Only when this has been achieved, can researchers or tourists start visiting the gorillas.

Such a habituation has certain risks for gorillas and humans. Very important is the danger of disease transmission. The gorillas do not avoid poachers any more as soon as they have lost their fear and therefore are easy to hunt; moreover, they raid the fields of the local population.