Uganda’s 18 Mountain Gorilla Groups Families in Bwindi Mgahinga for Uganda Gorilla Trek & Gorilla Habituation Experience
As of June 2019, For any one planning a Uganda gorilla trek, you have the opportunity to track any of the following 18 mountain gorilla groups or families habituated for tourism (gorilla trekking/tracking and gorilla habituation experiences) located in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (17 gorilla groups) and Mgahinga Gorilla NP (1 gorilla group).
The 18 Uganda gorilla trekking groups are in 3 sectors of Bwindi and Mgahinga as below:
If you are considering a gorilla trekking tour in Uganda, you will track gorillas with one of the following families:
Nkuringo Sector: Bikingi, Nkuringo and Bushaho
Buhoma Sector: Rushegura, Habinyanja and Mubare
Ruhija Sector: Bitukura, Oruzogo, Kyaguriro A and B gorilla groups
Rushaga Sector: Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, Busingye and Bweza.
Mgahinga Gorilla NP: Nyakagezi Gorilla Group
Buhoma Sector Gorilla Groups/ Families
Buhoma Sector is probably the most preferred gorilla trekking area for those preferring a not so tough gorilla trek in Bwindi. Most times the gorillas in this sector are closer to reach. So your gorilla trek might be shorter.
HABINYANJA GORILLA GROUP
17 MEMBERS | UPDATED: 4 JANUARY 2018
Habituated since 1996, Habinyanja was once a large family with more than 25 members including several strong males. In February 2002 the group split into two families causing the creation of Rushegura family. Habinyanja is currently uniquely known for ranging further and colonizing new areas away from its originally known home range areas. Habinyanja family is composed of 17 individuals including; 1 silverback, 1 blackback, 5 adult females, 1 sub-adult, 3 juveniles and 6 infants. It is found in Buhoma tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park and is headed by Makara.
MUBARE GORILLA FAMILY
Mubare group headed by Kanyonyi is the oldest habituated gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park since 1991. It is uniquely known for Single male leadership and pure intolerance to multi-male leadership by its leader(s). The group’s historical leader (Ruhondeza) was well known for practicing ‘infanticide’ to eliminate younger males and at the time of Ruhondeza’s demise (26th June 2012) only one lucky male (Kanyonyi) had managed to survive his father’s wrath thus taking over leadership immediately.Mubare group is composed of eleven (11) individuals including; 1 silverback, 6 adult females, 3 infants and 1 sub-adult and is found in Buhoma tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
The family was created in February 2002 following the split of the former larger Habinyanja family. The group was named after a tree species ‘Ebishegura’ found in the area where the split occurred. Rushegura family is fondly known for foraging closer to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s headquarters (Buhoma) and for visiting local community gardens around its home range areas. It is composed of 16 individuals who include; 1 silverback, 4 blackbacks, 4 adult females, 3 juveniles, 4 infants and is headed by Kabukojo. Rushegura family is found in Buhoma tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
Gorilla Groups/ Families in Rushaga/ Shongi Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable N. Park
SHONGI GORILLA GROUP
Like Bitukura family, Shongi‘s habituation started in 2006. Initially, this family’s size was as large as 32 members with multi-males but with time intra-male rivalry has caused dispersals of individual members as well as fission. In early 2013, two sections of family members split off the main Shongi group to form the Mishaya family in June 2010 and later again to the current ‘Bweza’ family. Unfortunately, Mishaya Silverback (who had solely led the first splinter section as an adult male died of an obstruction of the intestinal gut on 3rd February, 2014). This resulted into the dispersal of the remnant family members as they had NO other adult male to take lead. Some of the members ended up joining Bweza family while others joined Bikingi family. Today Shongi group is composed of 7 individuals; 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, 1 juvenile and 1 infant. Shongi family is headed by Bweza and found in Rushaga tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
BUSINGYE GORILLA FAMILY
Members of Busingye gorilla family were initially habituated as a whole in 2008 with Kahungye family, unfortunately the group broke away in March 2012 creating the Busingye family. This family was named after one of the adult males who led the splinter section to form a new family. Busingye family is fondly known for foraging within the inner forest and very rarely comes toward the park edge. It is found in Rushaga tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park and is composed of 9 individuals; 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 juvenile and 4 infants. Busingye family is still headed by its founder Silverback Busingye.
BWEZA GORILLA FAMILY
Bweza family members were initially habituated in the larger Shongi family until early 2013 when they detached themselves off the main Shongi family to form their own group under the leadership of Kakono. Found in Rushaga tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Bweza family likes to forage on local community land (where vegetation is more disturbed) than in the intact forest areas. This could be its way of freeing from the initial family. Bweza family is currently composed of 12 individuals including; 2 silverbacks, 4 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, and two infants.
KAHUNGYE GORILLA GROUP
Initially, Kahungye family size was as large as 29 members with three adult males but due to intra-male rivalry, fission occurred in March 2012 creating the Busingye family. Today Kahungye family is composed of only 17 individuals that include; 3 silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 3 sub-adult, 3 juveniles and two infants. Kahungye family is found in Rushaga tourism area of Bwindi Impenetrable national park and is headed by Rumanzi. The habituation of this group started in 2008.
MISHAYA GORILLA FAMILY
This is the group that was formed after it’s separation from the Nshongi family in 2010.
Mishaya, a fighter he is, tore away from his main family with 10 members and has continued to have several fights with other gorilla families.
Apparently, the Mishaya group is made of 12 family members with 1 dominant silverback.
Gorilla Groups in Ruhija Sector of Bwindi
BITUKURA MOUNTAIN GORILLA FAMILY
Bitukura family is found in Ruhija tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park. It is headed by Ndahura and is currently composed of 13 individuals; 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles and 3 infants. Habituation of Bitukura family started in 2006. The family is well known for multi-male tolerance in the group, sometimes with up to five adult males living in the same family at once. Bitukura family likes foraging around Ruhija tourism station of BINP and sometimes along the forest edges in the sector.
KYAGULIRO A&B GORILLA GROUPS
Kyaguliro A&B groups are solely dedicated for gorilla research purposes. They are found in Ruhija tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park. The groups’ habituation began in 1995 following the sudden death of the principal family head Rukina succumbed to an electric shock due to lightning on 7th April 2015. After Rukina’s demise, the family was left under the leadership of an inexperienced young Silverback (Mukiza) who was later ambushed by an immigrating Adult Silverback (Rukara) from the Bitukura family, this fueled a split of the family into two – (Kyaguliro A -Rukara and Kyaguliro B -Mukiza) in May 2016 . However, this split is not yet assured since the two sub-families continue to forage within close vicinity pausing high potential for re-union or crossing back and forth by some family members. Generally, the entire family is known for spending almost all its time in the inner forest and very rarely gets close to the forest’s peripherals.
Apparently, Rukara is composed of 10 individuals; 1 silverback, 2 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants, while Mukiza is also made up of 10 individuals who include; 1 silverback, 4 adult females, 1 sub-adult and 4 infants.
Oruzogo family is found in Ruhija tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park and is headed by Bakwate. Oruzugo family is fondly known for foraging and feeding on vegetation dominated by ‘Alchornea hitela’ plant (locally known as Oruzogo) upon which the group’s family name also originates. Oruzogo whose habituation started in 2008 is composed of 17 individuals including; 2 silverbacks, 2 black backs, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 1 juvenile and 5 infants.
Gorilla Groups in Nkuringo Sector of Bwindi
Composed of 12 individuals; 2 silverbacks, 1 blackback, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 3 juveniles and two infants, Nkuringo family is found in Nkuringo tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park. Nkuringo family was the first gorilla group to be habituated in the entire southern sector of BINP in 1997. Initially, the group had 17 but with time a number of members kept dispersing up to the current size of 12 members. Nkuringo family is also the first gorilla group to record the birth of gorilla ‘twins’ in BINP in December 2004. The group is famously known for foraging outside the park for up to 98% of their time. This practice led to the displacement of the former local human settlers in the frontline villages in Nkuringo sector to create a buffer zone to minimize human-wildlife interface. This displacement followed an outbreak of Scabies in the Nkuringo family in December 2000. Nkuringo family is headed by Rafiki.
BIKINGI GORILLA FAMILY (EXCLUSIVE FOR GORILLA HABITUATION EXPERIENCE)
The habituation of Bikingi gorilla group commenced in early 2012 as a follow-up exercise of the dispersing members of the disintegrated Mishaya family. Indeed, several members of the former Mishaya family were located in the group alongside other non-habituated members and later-on declared for habituation to keep close monitoring of the formerly habituated members. Bikingi family is found in Rushaga tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park. Unfortunately, this family’s leadership is not yet confirmed because it’s still undergoing habituation. Bikingi family is composed of 15 individuals including; 1 silverback, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, 2 juveniles and 5 infants.
BUSHAHO GORILLA FAMILY
Following a number of individual gorilla dispersals from Nkuringo family, a search for their whereabouts was launched in early 2012. It was discovered that one of the former Silverbacks of Nkuringo family, SB ‘Bahati’ who had dispersed earlier was leading a parallel family. Some of the members in this family were former members of the Nkuringo family among other non-habituated members. What started as a follow-up exercise later led to close monitoring of the behavior of the parallel family. The group was later habituated and named ‘Bushaho’ after the topo-name of the locality where the group forages most. Bushaho family is still headed by Bahati and is found in Nkuringo tourism sector of Bwindi Impenetrable national park. Bushaho family is composed of 8 individuals; 1 silverback, 1 blackback, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult, 1 juvenile, and 1 infant.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park – Gorilla Families/ Groups
NYAKAGEZI GORILLA FAMILY
Nyakagezi family is found in Mgahinga gorilla national park. Apparently Nyakagezi family is the only habituated gorilla in Mgahinga gorilla national park. It is headed by Mark and composed of 10 individuals; 5 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles, and 1 infant. The habituation of Nyakagezi family started in 1991 and the group was later opened for tourism in 1994. The gorilla family is fondly known for its trans-boundary nature which makes it freely roam across the three countries (Uganda, Rwanda & DRC) of the Virunga massif at will. Like Bitukura gorilla family in BINP, Nyakagezi is fondly known for multi-male tolerance.
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