Gorilla Families in Uganda

gorilla families in Uganda

Gorilla Families in Uganda, Habituated groups for gorilla trekking in Uganda

Uganda is a destined country that continues to attract thousands of travelers all over the world to visit for an exceptional experience of Gorilla Trekking in the mountainous areas of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Highlands. There are 15 gorilla families in Uganda but only 12 are habituated for gorilla trekking which visitors grouped into eight trekkers each can typically visit to experience this awesome adventurous activity.

These gorilla families in Uganda are located in four sectors of Bwindi forest (Rushaga, Buhoma, Nkuringo, and Ruhija sector) yet only one group can be found in Mgahinga gorilla national park. In summary, the gorilla families in Uganda include; Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubare, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Bweza, Kyaguriro (for research), Busingye and the Nhyakagezi in Mgahinga. Let’s detail the uniqueness of these gorilla families below;

The Mubare Group

Key Facts: 17 Members, Led by Silverback Makara
Location: Buhoma Region

The name of this group comes from the local word “Nyanja” which literally means ‘a waterbody/lake’ referring to the big swamp in Bwindi where this particular group was first sighted in 1999. Habinyanja is one of the most fascinating gorilla families in Uganda you can trek as you get to see an enchanting drama and commotion caused by the power struggles between the dominant silverbacks fighting for the family leadership. This group usually roams from place to place and this makes the trek for this family quite strenuous and tiresome lasting between 4-8 hours of the day.

Habinyanja Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 9 Members, Led by Silverback Kanyonyi
Location: Buhoma Region

The Mubare Group is one of the oldest gorilla families in Uganda and was originally situated back in 1991 by travelers who were hiking through the misty highlands of Bwindi forest. Mubare family started with only 12 members at the time of its habituation but is now one of the highly endangered gorilla families in Uganda remaining with only 9 family members. This group is favorable to track since it is very closer to the park headquarters in Buhoma sector although the easiness often varies depending on how they move from place to place searching for food and favorable habitat.

The Rushegura Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 18 Members, Led by Silverback Kabukojo
Location: Buhoma Region

The Rushegura gorilla family is yet another group that can be trekked from the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. First habituated in 2002 after a break-away from the Habinyanja family, the Rushegura family started with only 12 individuals including 5 females. The name of the group “Rushegura” is depicted from the local term “Ebishegura” to mean tree species that were abundant in the home area of the new family. The Rushegura group is believed to be a very calm family and are usually not far from Buhoma Village and this makes the tracking for this group to be shorter among other gorilla families in Uganda.

The Oruzogo Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 20 Members, Led by Silverback Bakwate
Location: Ruhija Sector

The Oruzogo Gorilla group resides in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and was first habituated in 2001. This group is said to be the largest in this region with over 20 members. Led by Bakwate the silverback, this family has of recent become very popular with the tourists because of its playful nature and energy exhibited by the elders that often keep visitors entertained. For a perfect gorilla trekking with this group in the Ruhija region, it is highly recommended that opt to book for a lodge within Ruhija so that you can have enough sleep and also drive fewer hours to reach the starting point of the trek.

The Bitukura Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 13 Members, Led by Silverback Ndahura
Location: Ruhija Sector

The Bitukura Gorilla group family used to be one of the largest gorilla groups years back with over 25 members in the group, but due to consistent wrangles, many of its members flew from the group leaving it with only 13 members of recent. This group is believed to be a quick learner in terms of adapting to human nature and emulating humans with the first habituation having lasted for only 15 months, unlike other groups which take between 18-24 months. 

The Kyaguliro Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 20 Members, Led by Silverback Rukara & Mukiza for Groups A and B respectively
Location: Ruhija Sector

The Kyaguliro group is further divided into 2 groups of A & B after a previous family fight which led to the split. This group was previously set aside as a Research Group studied by the German Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. The group had a major tragedy in 2014 when the leader or family head Rukina was struck dead by lightning giving an inexperienced young Silverback (Mukiza) to take responsibility of leading the group but was later ambushed by an immigrating Adult Silverback (Rukara) from the Bitukura family, fueling the split of the family into two – (Kyaguliro A -Rukara and Kyaguliro B -Mukiza) in May of 2016.

By the time you arrive, things may change again. Presently the two families continue to stay within close proximity of each other which has the potential for a reunion or crossing over of some family members. They are most often found deep in the forest and do not venture out into the peripheral areas.

The Nshongi Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 7 Members, Led by Silverback Nshongi
Location: Rushaga Sector

The Nshongi Gorilla Family is one of the habituated gorilla groups that was introduced 10 years ago in 2009. This gorilla group is named after the Nshongi River where they were first found where this group was discovered some years back. The area where the Nshongi gorilla is usually found is a large forested area where you can also see other primates, birds, butterflies in the rich, thick rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Today things have calmed down and continue to attract visitors to Uganda for the gorilla trekking experience.

Mishaya Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 12 Members, Led by Silverback Mishaya
Location: Rushaga Sector

The Mishaya Gorilla group is also one of the gorilla families in Uganda found in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi park. Currently, the group boasts of 12 members led by Mishaya the dominant silverback. The Mishaya Gorilla Family is simply a breakaway group that was originally a part of the Nshongi Gorilla Family. What is notable about this family is that silverbacks here will often bring females from other groups in order to increase its population.

Kahungye Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 17 Members, Led by Silverback Rumanzi
Location: Rushaga Sector

The Kahungye Gorilla Group is also located in the Rushaga region and currently hold a total population of 17 members after a breakaway that led to the creation of another group, the Busingye group which we shall see next on this page. The Kahungye Gorilla Family is led by Rumanzi and includes 3 silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 3 sub-adult, 3 juveniles, and two infants. The group was opened for visitors and gorilla tracking in 2011 after being habituated, a process that takes over two years.

The Name Kahungye for this group comes from a hill called Hungye in the Rushaga sector where the gorillas were discovered. The group is characterized with split, divorce, have feuds and runoff in a huff, while the males may raid another group and grab a few females to come along which makes the population of its members fluctuate.

Busingye Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 9 Members, Led by Silverback Busingye
Location: Rushaga Sector

The Busingye gorilla group is one of the newest and yet smallest gorilla families in Uganda with only 9 individuals. This group is a splinter group from the Kahungye gorilla family after a bad blood feud between the members leading to a fight that made Busingye runaway with 8 other members in 2012. Although the group is currently being studied and observed to determine whether there are any signs of a return to the Kahungye Gorilla family, that seems to be far from happening due the hatred and bad blood between the two groups

Bweza Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 12 Members, Led by Silverback Kakono
Location: Rushaga Sector

The Bweza Gorilla Family also broke away from the Nshongi Gorilla Family in 2013 after many feuds within the group. Currently, the leader of the group is Silverback Kakono and is made up of 12 individuals including; 2 silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, and two infants.

Nkuringo Gorilla Group

Key Facts: 12 Members, Led by Silverback Rafiki
Location: Nkuringo Sector

The Nkuringo gorilla group is found in the southern sector on Nkuringo region in Bwindi Forest Park. Tracking this Gorilla Group is a bit tiresome and requires physical fitness and stamina to be able to cope up due to its location in terrain surfaces and landscapes both to and from. Actually, even a 94-year-old woman in 2013 completed this trek and fulfilled her lifelong dream of seeing the gorillas in the wild. She was however carried on a stretcher by porters into the forest. The Nkuringo Group is currently being led by the Silverback Rafiki is made up of 12 individuals; 2 silverbacks, 1 blackback, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 3 juveniles and two infants.

The Nyakagezi Group of Mgahinga

Key Facts: 10 Members, Led by Silverback Mark
Location: Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The Nyakagezi Gorilla group is the only habituated gorilla group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of all gorilla families Uganda. Despite the park having over 80 Mountain Gorillas, this group consists of only 10 members and the rest are not in groups to easily trek them. The Nyakagezi is a migratory group that frequently moves to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda but most times it resides in the Mgahinga highlands and can be trekked from there. The Nyakagezi Gorilla Family is led by the Silverback Mark and composed of 10 individuals; 5 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 1 infant.

Please note that gorilla families in Uganda keep changing as more members are born, others die and other gorilla families in Uganda separate to produce more families. So expect to find a fluctuating figure on your next visit to Uganda for gorilla trekking

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