The dominant silverback generally determines the movements of the group, leading it to appropriate feeding sites throughout the year. He also mediates conflicts within the group and protects it from external threats.
When the group is attacked by humans, leopards, or other gorillas, the silverback will protect them even at the cost of his own life.
He is the center of attention during rest sessions, and young gorillas frequently stay close to him and include him in their games. If a mother dies or leaves the group, the silverback is usually the one who looks after her abandoned offspring, even allowing them to sleep in his nest.
Experienced silverbacks are capable of removing poachers’ snares from the hands or feet of their group members.
When the silverback dies or is killed by disease, accident, or poachers, the family group may be disrupted.