Sunday, April 15, 2012

Analysis of Klailova, Hodgkinson, and Lee (2010) Article

Klailova, Hodgkinson, and Lee (2010) recently studied the correlation between human tourism and aggression in gorillas.  Before this study, it had been suggested that human tourism may negatively affect wild gorillas because of potentially lowering gorilla's immunity and making them more susceptible to contracting human diseases.  So, Klailova, Hodgkinson, and Lee wanted to evaluate the impact of tourist presence, human observer numbers, and human observer distance on the behavior of a group of Western Lowland Gorillas at Bai Hokou, in the Central African Republic.  The results showed that although tourist numbers had no significant effect on human-directed aggression, close observer-gorilla proximity correlated with a decrease in feeding rates and an increase in human observation.  For instance, the silver-back (dominant male) of the group directed less aggression toward observers when they stood more than 10 meters away, but his aggression was greater when observers stood anywhere from 6 to 10 meters away.  Furthermore, the human-directed aggression was eliminated when observers stood greater than 18 meters away.  From this observation, Klailova, Hodgkinson, and Lee suggest that the current 7 meter distance limit governing gorilla tourism be increased to anything greater than 10 meters in order to increase the gorillas' well-being and decrease their aggression towards humans.  The researchers also recommend decreasing observer group sizes and restricting tourist access to one visit per day.  These recommendations are important to consider because although observation of gorillas can be very educational and useful (and interesting!), we want to make sure that by learning about these great creatures we are not harming them in any way.  This is especially true of observation of gorillas in the wild, where we are guests in their natural habitat.  So, we should treat them with respect now if we want keep them safe and healthy so that we can continue learning about them in the future.

To read the abstract of this article, you can go to, but to read the full-text you'll need to sign in via a university library or create an account for Wiley Online Library.


 Klailova, M., Kodgkinson, C., & Lee, P.C. (2010). Behavioral responses of one western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla ) group at Bai Hokou, Central African Republic, to tourists, researchers, and trackers. American Journal of Primatology. 72 (10), 897 - 906. 

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