What does a silverback do? Silverbacks are adult male mountain gorillas that are usually the heads of the mountain gorilla groups. Mountain gorillas are some of the popular primates in East Africa. Most visitors that come to East Africa are delighted at a chance to spend an hour with these apes in their natural habitat. Mountain gorillas in East Africa are found in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC recently joined the East African Community). They live in high altitudes of mountain forested areas.

Mountain gorillas are similar to humans; in fact they share about 95% of their DNA with humans. They also have similar instincts and behaviours. Like the humans the mountain gorillas live in families with an adult male (silverback), females and young ones. The adult male  is the head of the family and in this article we describe what the silverback does in a mountain gorilla group.

Lead the mountain gorilla group

The silverback is the dominant male in the group hence the leader of the group. This gorilla gives leadership, direction and guidance to the group. All the group’s members follow the silverback’s direction and lead in all things.

What does a silverback do?
silverback Gorilla

Protect the gorilla family

The silverback is the strongest gorilla in the family hence it’s no wonder it’s the protector of the family. It protects his family from its enemies and from any danger that arises. It’s been noted that a silverback in times of danger will hide its family and face danger head on for the sake of the family. The silverback also in times of fighting with the enemy, it will fight to death to protect its family.

Keep the family together

The silverback is also the mountain gorilla that keeps the family together. It keeps peace in the family and makes sure all the females get along. Sometimes it is also seen playing with the young gorillas in the families. It also instils discipline in the young ones where need arises.

Looking for food and eating sites for the family

The silverback is also the one the looks for food and eating sites for the entire group. In fact when the silverback finds the eating place or food, he will eat first because his leader and also to find out if the food is safe for his members. The silverback will go out to look for good places with good food and safe for the group.

Usually if the silverback doesn’t take the family to an eating site, the family may go long hours without food.

Looking for sleeping sites for the family

Silverback also looks for sleeping places for the group. Where the group sleeps for the day or for a period is determined by the lead. The Silverback has to ensure that the place is safe and good for the family before they can settle there.

Guide the young gorillas

Because it is the leader of the of the group and the dominant male, its imperative that he guides the young gorillas in the group especially the males who usually leave the group by 7 or 10 years old to go and start their families.

What does a silverback do?
What does a silverback do?

Mate with the females

It also mates with the females in the group. It’s the only male in the group that has the right to mate with the females in the group. This is because it’s the only adult male in the group. The other males are usually infants and they don’t stay in the group long after they mature. If there are other adult males in the group, they are not really as influential as the silverback.

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