Gorillas attack by first putting on a display of strength that includes standing upright, roaring, beating their chests with cupped hands, baring teeth, throwing objects, such as branches, and making mock aggressive charges. Only if these threats do not deter potential enemies, such as leopards, humans and other gorillas, does a gorilla truly attack with its muscular arms and powerful jaws.
Groups of gorillas are usually led by a single alpha male called a silverback. The silverback makes all the decisions, leads all activities, arbitrates disputes, mates with the females and is responsible for the group's safety. It fights to the death to protect the females and young in its care.
Though gorillas have a reputation for ferocity, if undisturbed, they are not aggressive and are even shy. They are primarily vegetarians, relying on a diet of leaves, roots, fruit, wild celery and tree bark. Because of the water content of the vegetation, they rarely have to drink water. Sometimes they eat insects, such as termites and ants.
Mountain gorillas have become a critically endangered species due to habitat loss, disease, hunting for big game and bush meat, and capture for zoos and research purposes. Conservation efforts include ecotourism, law enforcement against poaching, monitoring their populations and protecting their remaining habitats.