Gorillas protect themselves by living in groups that are protected by a large, dominant male and by being secretive. Additionally, gorillas are skilled climbers that can flee to the trees if pursued by a predator. The size of gorillas is enough to thwart most predators, and the primary species that threatens them is humans. Additionally, gorillas live in rain forest habitats that have few large predators.
When facing a predator or perceived threat, the dominant male in a group of gorillas will often charge it with teeth bared. While running toward the aggressor, the gorilla may beat his chest, scream or thrash the vegetation. Sometimes, gorillas even pick up and swing sticks at the threat or in the air. If the aggressor stands his ground, the gorilla will often break off the attack, as it is primarily designed as a bluff. However, if the animal turns and runs, the gorilla interprets this as weakness, and pounces on it. Large male gorillas are much stronger than humans or any predators that may attempt to hunt them.
Large males form harems of several females, their offspring and a few subordinate males. The dominant male will defend the group from all threats. Dominant male gorillas may exceed 400 pounds in weight, while females and subordinate males are typically smaller.