Tips for Mountain Gorilla Tracking

List of Mountain Gorilla Families in Uganda

In Africa, Mountain Gorillas are only located in 3 countries which are Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is recorded in History to have the biggest number of Mountain Gorilla with a minimum number of 400 Mountain Gorillas recorded up from 302 in the 2006 census. These primates are inhabited in Bwindi impenetrable national park. This rain Forest is located in the southern western part of Uganda and shelters half of the world’s remaining Mountain Gorillas whose encounter is the most exciting in the entire continent. Gorilla trekking is the main activity in Bwindi and a total number of 12 Gorilla families have been recorded from all the four sectors of the park.

About 80 Mountain Gorillas are located in Mgahinga Gorilla National park, all under one Gorilla Group that inhabits the area. Currently these Gorilla families have been habituated for tracking. Gorilla habituation is a process that takes 2 years and involves training Mountain Gorillas to get used to human beings, as they continue with their day to day activities in their wild natural environment. A maximum of 8 people are allowed to visit each Gorilla family per day.

Bwindi has four sectors in Bwindi and these include Rushaga, Buhoma, Ruhija and Nkuringo. Before embarking on your Gorilla tracking adventure, we have details on every Gorilla family that are available for visits. However, keep in mind that Mountain Gorillas are wild animals which keeping moving and anytime a silverback can decide to leave a group and form his only family. Below are the recorded total numbers of Mountain Gorilla families in every sector.

Rushegura Gorilla Family

Rushegura Gorilla Group is one of the families with 19 members in total and lead by one silverback Mwirima who is in his late 20s and a brother to a former silverback in Habinyanja called Rwansigazi. The group is named after a place where these two brothers separated to form their own independent group. It was brought together in 2002 after one silver back from the Habinyanja group decided to break away and start his only family with a number of 12 members including 5 females. By 2010 the number increased from 12 to 19 members, the family is led by a calm, friendly and its known as the most calm family in Bwindi forest. This group could always cross to Congo but always returned, it’s also known for wandering in nearby villages and lodges at times this making it the calmest family in Buhoma and entire Bwindi.

Habinyanja Gorilla Group

Habinyanja Gorilla Family started in 1997 although it was first visited by Tourists in 1999. The word Habinyanja comes from   a local word Nyanja ‘meaning water’, it’s one of the swamp in the forest where this family was found. The family consists of 17 members with 2 silver backs and the time the family was habituated ,it was led by one dominant silver back called Munguris a local word meaning ‘old man’  who later  passed on due to his old age. And later on he was inherited by his two Brothers Mwirima and Rwansigazi who took over power to lead the family but later on the two did not agree on ruling the family.

They had different characters Rwansigazi loved travelling well Mwirima loved to stay at a close range with the family Members this lead to their separation in 2002. Therefore the group that stayed with Rwansigazi was named Habinyanja, although Rwansigazi gave up his leadership skills to Makara the Dominate silverback who is now the leader. This family is found is Buhoma.

Mubare Gorilla Family

Mubare Gorilla Family was found in the forest in the Mubare hills which means stone in the local language, with 8 individuals including 1 silverback. The group was opened in 1993 for Tourism at the time of its Habituation it started with 18 members and Ruhondenza was the leader of the group. For the time of habituation, the group has faced a misfortune of raids by mountain Gorilla family kidnappers which caused death within the family in 2012 when the Gorilla family members were kidnapped.

Ruhondenza the leader tried to fight them but because of his old age he was over powered which lead to his unbearable sadness in his heart. History has it that he dead in his sleep because of his unbearable sadness and his grave can be visited by tourists, the 5 members who were left by Ruhondenza have increased to 8 members which are led by alpha the silverback called Kanyonyi.

Bitukura gorilla family

Bitukura gorilla family has 14 members the group was first sighted in 2007 with its original number of 24 members near the river were the family was located. The habitation was shorter than any other habituation which takes a period of 2 years. The family has a close bond and share together with the Kyaguriro family.

It’s a family known to be peacefully, playful, which makes it easier to be closer and build togetherness with other members although it has 4 silverbacks but the family is led by the second youngest silverback ‘Ndahura’ who inherited and took over power from Karumazi who is aged now and could no longer fight for the family. Although the family has faced a lot of trails Bitukura is happier than before and close since in 2013 when they received new members in the family. Bitukura Gorilla Family is found in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi.

Oruzongo family

Oruzogo has 25 members including 2 Silverbacks this family was established in 2011 by the Uganda wildlife Authority, recent found in 2011 and the second habituated group in Ruhija sector. This group is led by Tebirikwata one of the oldest Gorilla in the family, since 2011 the family has enlarged with more family members due to increase of child birth by the elder females Ntumurungi, Musi both in the same year , another bundle of joy happened to come in 2013 when kankoba gave birth to twins. The group is known of its playful ways and its energetic characters. This group consists of family members with different names derived from local names including Busungu which means (short tempered “), Bwoba (coward), kakanga (the giant one).

Kyaguriro family group

Kyaguriro group is one of the most treasured Gorilla groups after its habituation in 1999. This group was reserved for research and study purpose by ‘Max Planck institute by evolutional of Anthropology’. This group is also part of the Gorilla family groups in Ruhija sector. The family consists of 15 members including 2 Silverbacks and was led by an aging silverback Zeus who was banished in the forest by Rukina and later died. The group has seen a number of generation since Rukina who was the leader after Zeus who was announced dead in 2015.

He had grown up to the age of 31 years old  later on he was replaced by a silver back called Rukara who now leads the family of 15 members. The family has helped in a big number of research and conservation to learn about the differences in Mountain Gorillas with those in Virunga Volcanoes National park.

Nkuringo Gorilla Group

The word ‘Nkuringo’ is derived from the word round hills these hills are located in the areas of Kisoro and Bwindi the Nkuringo sector was launched in 2004, Nkuringo has one family group and that’s Nkuringo its self. This family is the most challenging trailheads of Gorilla trekking but one of the most satisfying and worth your trek in the life time experience.

The family was led by one of the Silverback Alpha who was named after the word ‘Nkuringo’ and later died in 2004 after a successful habituation. Nkuringo left two elderly sons, Rafiki (meaning friend in kiswahili) and safari the elder brother who took over power and has been able to hold the family firm through hard times and seasons of happiness and during his reign the family has welcomed two baby twins namely Muhoza and katungi although Katungi could not live to see his second birthday and he passed on. The family consists of 19 members including 2 Silverbacks.

Mishaya Gorilla family

Mishaya Gorilla family has 12 members who can be visited everyday by 8 people. This group is known as a fighter because of the leader it had a long time ago its name was derived after Mishaya the silverback who was known for fighting, interaction with other Gorrila families, he broke away from Nshogi family with 10 members to start his own family.

Mishaya was known for his fights in 2010 he started a fight which lead to more injuries and he lost one of his infants but thanks to the mountain Gorilla vet nary who rescued him, although he later passed on in 2014. The family is now lead by Mwine the silverback this family can be visited in Rushaga sector.

Nshongi Gorilla family

Nshongi Gorilla Family is the largest group in Rushaga sector to be visited by Tourists, it was launched in 2009 with the biggest habituation group, it was named after River Nshongi where it was first sighted, the word ‘Nshongi’ was derived from a local word ‘Omushongi Gwobuki’ meaning honey and referred to the deep brownish color of the water in the river.

The family  was led by Nhsongi the silverback with  36 members who were visited daily but later on division occurred in 2010 when Mishaya broke off with 10 members to form his own after two years later in 2010 Bweza the silverback also broke off with some members to form his own ,the family was left with only 26 members.

Kahugye Family Group

Kahungye includes 13 members with 3 Silverbacks this group is found in the hills of the mountain and one of the newest Mountain Gorilla Group in the Rushaga sector. The group was launched in 2011 after a successful habituation which had 27 members with 3 Silverbacks however a member of the family Busingye broke off with some members causing the family to split off and reducing the number to 13 members. Kahungye family is now lead by a silverback called ‘Gwigi ‘meaning door in local words.

Bweza Gorilla Group

Bweza is the largest habituated group after Nshongi group which was the largest however in 2010 Mishaya the silverback decided to break off the family to form his own group, it’s recorded by rangers that Bweza also broke off to form his own family in 2012, the rangers thought the group could get back together. This family is located in Rushaga sector of Bwindi.

Busingye Gorilla family

Busingye Gorilla family is located in the Rushaga sector one of Bwindi sectors with the biggest number of Mountain Gorilla groups. This group is named after the silverback Busingye. The word Busingye is a local word meaning ‘peace’. Busingye is aggressive who picks fights among other Gorilla family groups, he was a member of Kuhungye family who separated from the group in 2012 with 7 members.

His known for snatching away females from other family groups, currently he has been able to  grow his family to  9 members by grabbing females from other males, one of ways he shows his power.

Nyakagezi Gorilla Group

Unlike other 11 gorilla families in Bwindi, ‘Nyakagezi’ is the only group in Mgahinga and forms 10 members, this group usually crosses over to neighboring countries Congo and Rwanda. However in 2012 the UWA has observed the family to enjoy more of Uganda and currently has stabilized. ‘Bugingo’ was the silverback who led the members of the group but later on passed away due to his old age. He was later replaced by his elder son mark with other two silverbacks Mafia and mathew.

The family has two young ones Furaha and Nkanda with two females called Nyiramwezi and Nshuti, and two blackbacks Nduguntse and Rukundo. The group is known for its entertainment and Tourists love its playful nature and character, due to its unpredictable movements and traveling, UWA has placed the permits in Kisoro and this is the only place Gorrila permits can be purchased.

Visit Uganda and have a chance to encounter with the only mountain Gorillas left in the world in their habitat and family bond to learn about their day to day life.

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