Social Life of Gorillas
The Silverbacks (adult males) normally head the family. Silverbacks are typically more aggressive than other group members they are responsible for keeping the troop out of trouble (troop safety). The silverback makes all group decisions, is responsible for most of the calls, receives the dominant portion of food and can terminate troublesome behavior with just a look. A male must have an established home range and great strength to confront any rival before acquiring his own troop. Therefore, most silverbacks are usually introverted for about 4 years and turn 15 before acquiring a troop of their own.
Competition for adult females is high and will often result in aggressive interactions between a dominant and rival silverback who is looking to either start or expand a troop. Adult females are not bonded to one another and usually compete to groom and stay close to the silverback. Mothers are closely bonded to their offspring for the first three years of life.
Protection and Care
The dominant silverback is responsible for the protection and safety of the troop. In times of a threatening situation, the silverback will fiercely beat its chest, produce loud scowling vocalizations and a pungent odor, throw vegetation and charge at its opponent or intruder. This is done to give time to the rest of the troop to retreat to a safe distance. The male in charge keeps its dominant status by standing upright, pounding his chest and bellowing deep cries, and even throwing things to assert his dominance.