In the event of bumping into an irate male gorilla, simply yelling, “Get your hands off me, you damned dirty ape!” is unlikely to save your skin. Ian Redmond of the Gorilla Organisation (Gorillas.org) teaches you how to cope should you encounter an angry silverback.
“Firstly, you should announce your presence with reassuring vocalisations to avoid taking the silverback by surprise and angering him. Gorillas keep in contact via calls known as BVs — ‘Belch Vocalisations’ because they sound like burps. To imitate one, clear your throat while keeping your lips sealed and saying ‘mmm’, so it sounds like ‘harrrmm mmmwah’. If you’re on a slope, position yourself so that you and the silverback are the same height.”
“If the silverback is alarmed at seeing you, it may be because every other human he’s met has been a poacher, giving him good cause to be wary. You will need to convince him that you are not dangerous. To do this, drop down on one knee with your body sideways to him and look at him out of the corner of your eye.”
“Fold one arm across your chest with the hand on the opposite shoulder and groom the hairs on the back of your wrist with your other hand and lips, perhaps while humming contentedly. This will make you appear relaxed and non-threatening.”
“If the silverback gives a screaming charge, don’t run away. Simply hunker down and look nonchalant, while continuing to scratch yourself to appear calm. If he makes contact, curl up in a ball — you might be thumped or bitten, but you’ll be dining out on the story for years.”