From: Deadly 60 Team, BBC Earth
Published September 9, 2011 01:43 PM

Mountain Gorillas: The rules of engagement

Travelling the world to meet your deadly heroes is an awe-inspiring experience. So when adventurer Steve meets one who’s not only a king of its territory but is also incredibly rare. It really is an experience of a lifetime.

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Mountain gorillas are endangered, with only 786 individuals left in the world. Visiting them can be an incredible experience, as Steve found out when he travelled to the forests of Uganda.

Gorillas are one of our closest relatives. They may be powerful, but they are also intelligent and shy. If, like Steve, you visit mountain gorillas you need to be respectful. Here are some things to consider.

  1. Small groups: Gorillas are social primates living in complex groups. Only a few people at a time can visit them for short periods. Large groups of people would cause too much disturbance and risk stressing the animals.
  2. Stay quiet: You’ll also need to keep your voices low. Gorillas use vocalisations to communicate — loud noise and chatting might confuse the animals or make them anxious.
  3. Gorillas and humans, share 98% of their genes. This means they may be vulnerable to the same diseases as us. If you're feeling ill or have a cold you’ll risk passing on your infection.
  4. Keeping clean: To reduce contamination and spreading disease the team also washed their hands before seeing the gorillas and weren't allowed to smoke, drink or eat.
  5. It's advisable to keep at a safe distance away from the gorillas. It's never a good idea to approach or touch a large wild animal, a gorilla might see this as a threat.
  6. Listen to the guides: Our crew had a team of experienced guides with them at all times; they understand the gorilla's behaviour and can advise you how to act around them.

For more great tips and moving moments like these check out the Deadly Diaries, direct from Steve and the Deadly 60 team! 

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