Mountain Gorilla Families in Uganda
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. About 80 Mountain Gorillas are also located in Mgahinga Gorilla National park, all under one Gorilla Group that inhabits the area. There are over 12 habituated gorilla families in Uganda. Currently the Gorilla families in Bwindi and Mgahinga have been habituated for gorilla 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 Uganda as recorded in each sector.
The Habituated Gorilla Families in Uganda
Mubare Gorilla Family, is located in Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park which is located in the south western part of Uganda. Bwindi impenetrable national park inhabits 400 mountain Gorillas.
The park is found in one of the countries that inhabit half of the world’s mountain Gorilla population in the world.
Bwindi Impenetrable national park has 10 habituated mountain Gorillas and one of the family is the Mubare Gorilla Group. The group is one of the oldest Gorilla families in Uganda which was opened for tourism in 1993 after the habituation took place for 2 years (which means the group was trained to be close to humans). The word Mubare is a local word which means ‘Hills’.
The hills are found deep in Bwindi impenetrable national park, the hills are where the Mubare Gorilla Group was first seen by tourists.
The Mubare Gorilla Group is composed of 18 members, and it’s led by Ruhondeza the silverback. For many years the family has lost many members until 2012, when they were left only 5 in the group when the group was attacked and some of the females in the group were taken away.
3. Habinyanja Gorilla Family
Habinyanja Gorilla Family was founded in 1997 though 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 though they later on the two did not agree on ruling the family and hence separated in 2002.
Therefore the group that stayed with Rwansigazi was named Habinyanja. This family is found is Buhoma sector
5. Oruzogo Gorilla Family
Oruzogo has 25 members including 2 Silverbacks this family was established in 2011 by the Uganda wildlife Authority. 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).
7. Nkuringo Gorilla Family
The Nkuringo Gorilla family originated from the The word ‘Nkuringo’ is which means “round hills”. This family is the only group located in the Nkuringo sector that was launched in 2004. 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.
Way back, 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 was succeeded by 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.
9. Nshongi Gorilla Family
Nshongi Gorilla Family is the largest group of all gorilla families in Uganda. This group is found in Rushaga sector and it was launched in 2009 with the biggest habituation group, it was named after River Nshongi where it was first sighted.
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.
11. Other Gorilla Families in Uganda-Bwindi
Bweza Gorilla Family: 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: The 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, and is 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.
2. The Rushegura Gorilla Family
Rushegura Gorilla family group is located in the Buhoma sector in Bwindi Impenetrable national park. This group has a total number of 19 habituated gorillas. In addition, this group as famous for the frequent movements of gorillas between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, however now these gorillas settled in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Rushegura group has become a favorite group of many trekkers in the park because its gorillas are found of being friendly and comfortable around human beings.
This gorilla group was formed after its leader Mwirima separated from the Habinyanja gorilla family. During their separation, Mwirima took seven members with him and these members included one male and five females. Later lone, gorillas joined the group thus increasing the number to 12 members and after the birth of infants, the number increased more up to 19 members. However, the number of the group later reduced to 16 members and this happened after the death of their leader Mwirima. The Rushegura group consists of members named Mwirima who is the dominant silverback, and the male adult named, Kalembezi. There are also adult females in the group and these members include; Kalungi, Nyamunwa, Busunza, Kabande and Ruterana. Rushegura gorilla group also has Juveniles such as; Kibande, Nyampazi, Kafuruka, Karungyi. Lastly, other members of the group include infants like; Buzinza, Kyirinvi, Nyamunwa, Kibande, and Katabazi.
4. Bitukura Gorilla Family
Bitukura gorilla family has 14 members. This peaceful gorilla 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 playful and friendly, which makes it easier to be closer and build togetherness with other members. The family is led by the second youngest silverback ‘Ndahura’ who inherited and took over power from Karumazi. 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.
6. Kyaguriro Gorilla Family
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 and consists of 15 members including 2 Silverbacks. The group has seen a number of generation since Rukina who was the leader after Zeus who was announced dead in 2015.
This gorilla 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.
8. 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 previously 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.
10. Kahungye Gorilla Family
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 ‘literally meaning “door” in local words.
12. Nyakagezi Gorilla Family in Mgahinga
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 and became replaced by his elder son b with other two silverbacks Mafia andMathew.
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.
Consider a Safari Visit today and have a chance to encounter with the only mountain Gorilla families in Uganda in their habitat and learn more about their day to day life.