Gorilla Families in Uganda

Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable involves following a gorilla group that has already been habituated. Currently, there are 26 habituated mountain gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. These gorilla families are distributed in the four sectors of the Park. The sectors include; Buhoma sector, Rushaga sector, Nkuringo sector, and Ruhija sector

Buhoma Sector

1. Mubare Gorilla Family

    It’s perhaps one of the easiest to track within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It attained its name from the first gorilla trackers in the area from way back that were known as Mubare. The family’s leading silverback is known as Kanyonyi. Presently, it’s comprised of 8 individuals. It’s the first gorilla family within the park to have ever been habituated and got ready for trekking in 1993, at first under the leadership of the silverback Ruhondeza.

    The family has suffered great reduction in numbers since the initial time it was founded. This has been due to the fights within the family members, and probable migration of some members, and some deaths leaving the family composition at 5 members by 2012. Ruhondeza’s leadership was marred by attacks from external silverbacks which let to desertion from some members. He lived for 50 years.

    2. Habinyanja Gorilla Family

      Just like Mubare, this family was among the first ones to be open to tourism. It was at first under Habinyanja, but due to natural circumstances, the group is presently under the leadership of Makara. It’s comprised of 17 individuals. Shortly after it was habituated in 1997, Habinyanja was replaced by Mugurusi. Habinyanja from which the family was named, was from a Rukiga word which means a place of water. The family was located near a swamp at the time it was sighted and probably explains why it was named so.

      Rwansigazi and Mwirima succeeded their brother Mugurusi after he passed on. In 2002, the two brothers peacefully separated and Rwansigazi retained the Habinyanja Gorilla Family. Mwirima wandered off and his was named Rushegura Gorilla Family.

      3. Rushegura Gorilla Family.

        With 19 individuals making up the family, it has one silverback as its leader. The family came out of the separation between the brothers Mwirima and Rwansigazi in 2002. The family’s name originates from the dominant tree within the area in which the family was named, known as “Ebishegura.” By 2010, the family had an increase in the number of members, from 12 to 19 individuals. This came from the fact that Mwirima is a superb leader and he has since motivated his family out of shyness. So, the family individuals aren’t shy when the tourists come around them.

        Other gorilla families in Buhoma sector are Muyambi and Katwe.

        Ruhija Sector.

        1. Oruzogo Gorilla Family.

          It’s one of the largest populated families with 25 individuals. It’s within the Ruhija sector and has 2 silverbacks. It first became open to tourism in 2011 and this family is under the leadership of Tibirikwata. One of the most unique attributes to this family is that it has numerous youngsters that can be seen playing around. They were born from mothers within the family like Kakoba, Ntamurungi, and Musi.

          2. Kyaguriro Gorilla Family.

            The family is led by Rukina. He took power from Zeus. The family is made up of 15 members. It’s mainly gazetted for research purposes from the zoologists, primatologists, and conservationists. This means that tourists are greatly limited from accessing the family. 

            3. Bitukura Gorilla Family.

              It’s led by Ndahura. He took over from the retired silverback Karamuzi. The family has generally suffered from loss of some members after decreasing from 24 to 14 members. The family attained its name from a nearby river that flows close by.

              Habituation process is known to take close to 2 years, but surprisingly, this family only needed 15 months to be open for trekking. By 2008 when the first visit was made on the family, it had some members already spotted since they had always mingled in the already habituated gorilla family known as the Kyaguriro Gorilla Family.

              4. Mukiza gorilla family

              This broke off from Kyaguriro family and was once known as Kyaguriro B group.

              Nkuringo Sector.

              1. Nkuringo Gorilla Family.

                It’s made up of 19 members. It was initially under the leadership of Nkuringo who died in 2008. By the time of his death, he had left children Safari and Rafiki. Safari took leadership succeeding his father. Because the family was first sighted along a round hill, it attained its family name thereafter. In 2008, habituation of this family commenced and since then, tremendous gains have been reached from the tourism.

                Other recently habituated gorilla groups in Nkuringo sector include Christmas, Bushaho and Posho families.

                Rushaga Sector

                1. Nshongi Gorilla Family

                  It commenced tourism activities in 2009. Back then, the gorilla population was at 37 individuals, and became the largest ever habituated group within the park. Presently, Nshongi is home to about 26 gorillas. The name means a honey like color of a river. It was therefore named Nshongi because it was first seen near a river. Even with 4 silverbacks, the family-maintained harmony.

                  2. Mishaya Gorilla Family

                    Mishaya the leading silverback in the family, and from whom the family was named, broke away from Nshongi Gorilla Family in 2010. He was always known to keep in fights, not only while fighting for his family, but also fighting against other silverbacks to other families so as to steal their female gorillas.

                    He once had a fierce fight from which he sustained numerous wounds. Gladly, his life was saved by a team of gorilla health experts of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. It’s now made up of 12 gorillas.

                    3. Kahungye Gorilla Family

                      The dominant silverback is known as Rumansi. The family has 3 silverbacks, and a total of 13 members. It was officially opened for tourism in 2011. At the time, it had 27 members but as time went by, the family split, with Busingye Gorilla Family being formed from the breakaway.

                      4. Bweza Gorilla Family.

                        It arose from the then biggest family in Bwindi – Nshongi Gorilla Family. While Mishaya separated from Nshongi Gorilla Family in 2010, he also suffered the fate of being opposed by Bweza who split in 2012. He took with him 6 individuals from the Nshongi Gorilla Family. It presently has 9 members under the leadership of Bweza.

                        5. Busingye Gorilla Family.

                          Busingye is the family’s leader. In 2012, he split from Kahungye Gorilla Family. The family now has 9 members. Whereas Busingye means ‘peace’, his actions are very contrary to that. He’s a seasoned warmonger who keeps attacking other gorilla families, in order to steal their female gorillas. It was officially launched in 2013, and tourists can visit this gorilla family on a daily basis.

                          Other recently habituated families in Rushaga sector include; 

                          6. Mucunguzi

                          7. Bikingi

                          8. Kutu

                          Gorilla families in Mgahinga National Park

                          1. Nyakagezi Gorilla Family.

                            Mgahinga National Park has only one mountain gorilla habituated family – Nyakagezi group. This family was once nomadic, due to its constant migration into Rwanda and D.R.C which stopped a few years ago. Mark is the dominant silverback and reigns over a family of 10 members. Trekking Nyakagezi is easier than Bwindi national park because of the flat terrain that Mgahinga park is known for.


                            UWA AUTO USAGA UTB