Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Gorilla Families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are the habituated groups of gorillas that are ready to be visited and they live in these families. Of the 4 National parks in Africa and the world that are home to mountain gorillas, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda has the highest number of mountain gorillas living in its impenetrable rain forest that covers an area of 327 sq km.sq in south western Uganda at the edge of the rift valley.
The biodiverse impenetrable rain forest offers the perfect habitat to over 600 gorillas living in about 30 families that roam around the hilly landscape day after day. With this huge number of mountain gorillas, Bwindi National Park is the perfect destination for mountain gorilla trekking.
Though the number of mountain gorillas in Bwindi is high, only 19 gorilla families in Bwindi Forest are habituated for mountain gorilla trekking activities.
Habituation of mountain gorillas takes about 15 – 24 months and in Uganda mountain gorilla habituation started in 1991 with the Mubare family. So below we detail the different gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that have been habituated.
- Mubare family: Mubare family was the first family to be habituated for gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the habituation process started in 1991 and in 1993; the family received its first visitors. The family was habituated with 9 members at the time, one silverback and 8 members the numbers grew to 18 members, but by 2012 the family had lost most of its members living it with only 5 members at the time. The good news is that after the death of Ruhondeza the first silverback, Kanyonyi took over as the main silverback and has since grown the family’s number to 9 members and as of 2019 the family has 2 new-borns that have added to the number of the group making its 11 members in the group. This mountain gorilla family lives in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Forest National Park. Mubare is the name of the hills where the family was first sighted hence the name of the group.
- Oruzogo family: Oruzogo family was the second family to be habituated in Ruhija in 2011. This family currently consists of one silverback Tibirikwata leading 23 individuals in Bwindi’s Ruhija sector. This group is known for its playful young gorillas that make it a fun group to visit.
- Habinyanja family: This family received its first visitors in 1999 after its habituation in 1997. The family has two silverbacks and a total of 18 individuals living in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi National Park. The gorilla group was first seen in the swamps of Bwindi National Park “swamps of the jungle” and that’s where the group’s name was derived. At the time of habituation, the group had 30 individuals led by one silverback; but after his death, the group had conflicts that led to the group splitting into two. One retained the Habinyanja name as the other took on the name Rushegura.
- Rushegura family: After the break away from Habinyanja, the Rushegura group was formed under the leadership of Mwiriwa. The group had 12 individuals then but currently has 19 individuals including Kabukojo the silverback who took over after the death of Mwirima. Rushegura comes from a tree species that is common in homes and it was given to this group because of the group’s calm characteristics.
- Katwe family: This family is one of the most recent habituated families in Bwindi. Living in the Buhoma sector, the family has one silverback and 6 members.
- Nkuringo family: Named after its sector, this family was habituated with 3 silverbacks but one died and it currently has 2 silverbacks and 19 individuals. Of course, it lives in the Nkuringo sector in Bwindi National park. Nkuringo is the name of the hill where the gorillas live and were first sighted. The group’s first silverback was called Nkuringo and after his passing Rafiki took over the group.
- Bushaho family: Bushaho family is one of the families that live in Nkuringo, the group has one silverback Bahati that leads 7 other members.
- Bitukura family: This family in Ruhija sector was the first habituated gorilla family in Ruhija in 2007, with 24 individuals however currently the group has10 members led by 4 silverbacks making it a total of 14 individuals. At the point of habituation the group was always at the Bitukura River hence the name Bitukura
- Mishaya family: This family lives in Rushaga with 6 members led by one silverback Mishaya. The group is a breakaway of Nshongi and it is said that the silverback Mishaya is quite a fighter that is why he keeps losing members.
- Nshongi family: This family lives in Rushaga and has 18 members that are led by a silverback younger than all the females in the group. The group received its first visitors in 2009 after habituation that started in 2007. This group was once the largest group with 36 members but after two breaks-a ways thus Mishaya and Bweza in 2010 and 2013 respectively, the group was left with only 18 members. The group gets its name from Nshongi River.
- Kahungye family: Also in Rushaga, the family has 10 members with 3 silverbacks, the dominant silverback being Rumansi. In 2011 though when it was accessed by tourists the group had 27 members but the group split and another group Busingye was formed leaving the group with 13 members.
- Bweza family: This family is one of the families in the Rushaga sector and originally part of the Nshongi family, from which it is split and formed a group of 8 members led by 1 silverback. The family split with Mishaya from Nshongi and later split from Mishaya to form its own group.
- Busingye family: The family in Rushaga that is a breakaway from Kahungye has 8 members led by one silverback Busingye. Though Busingye means peace the silverback is not a peaceful one, known for always causing fights with other gorillas.
- Kyaguriro family: The family of 20 individuals lives in Ruhija and was habituated in 1995 for research purposes. This group has good relations with Bitukura and some of the members of either family keep crossing back and away. This, as it’s for research purposes, will receive fewer tourists and more wildlife scholars.
- Bikyingi family: This family is found in Rushaga and has a total of 21 individuals with one silverback Bikyingi named after the group.
- Christmas family: This is one of the new families in Nkuringo and has one silverback called Christmas and 9 other members.
- Mukiza family: This gorilla family is a breakaway from Kyaguriro and lives in Ruhija with 11 members including the silverback Mukiza.
- Kutu family: Not so much is known about this Kutu family but lives in Rushaga and has one silverback that leads eight other members.
- Mucungunzi family: This family lives in Rushaga and is a breakaway from Bweza after Mucungunzi fought with Bweza the silverback. Mucungunzi took with him 8 female members plus him making it a family of 9 individuals.
Those are the 19 habituated families currently living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and your gorilla trekking trip to Bwindi, you will expect to see either one of the 19 gorilla families.