Uganda Gorilla Families in Bwindi & Mgahinga. (The Habituated Gorilla Groups).

happy uganda gorilla families with a kid

Are you curious about the gorilla families in Uganda? Or are you curious about which Ugandan gorilla family is the greatest for trekking? There are fourteen habituated gorilla families in Uganda, each consisting of ten to forty individuals of varied ages, led by the group’s oldest male, the silverback.

Twelve habituated gorilla groups and two more families are present in the thick Bwindi Forest, where visitors can undertake mountain gorilla trekking. For any gorilla group, there are only 8 gorilla permits available every day. Names for gorilla families are determined by the dominant silverback’s name, the group’s location, and the gorilla’s history of formation.

There is only one family of Ugandan gorillas in Mgahinga National Park: the Nyakagezi group. Despite having one of the biggest gorilla families in the world, not many tourists travel to Mgahinga for gorilla excursions. The finest spot to go for a gorilla habituation experience is Mgahinga Gorilla Park. Below is a summary of all the specific details about each of Uganda’s mountain gorilla groups. Briefly, the gorilla groups in Uganda include;

Bweza Gorilla Family- Rushaga (Bwindi)

Busingye Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

Kyaguriro Gorilla Family – (Ruhija)

Nyakagezi Gorilla Family – (Mgahinga)

Mubare Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)

Habinyanja Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)

Rushegura Gorilla Family – Buhoma (Bwindi)

Bitukura Gorilla Family- Ruhija (Bwindi)

Oruzogo Gorilla Family – Ruhija (Bwindi)

Nkuringo Gorilla Family – Nkuringo (Bwindi)

Nshongi Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

Mishaya Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

Kahungye Gorilla Family – Rushaga (Bwindi)

Gorilla Families in the Rushaga Area of Bwindi.

Rushaga in Bwindi Forest is home to the Mishaya Gorilla Family, the Nshongi Group, the Kahungye, Bweza, and Busingye.

Nshongi Gorilla Family

The Nshongi gorilla family has got over   Twenty-six (26) members including four (4) silverbacks.

The Nshongi family had 37 members when it was first accessed by tourists and visitors in 2009, making it the largest habituated group ever. There are four silverbacks and twenty-six members living there right now. The name Nshongi (which refers to the deep honey-like color of the river) was given to the family because they were initially spotted next to a river.

The family’s size made them stand out when it was opened to tourists in September 2009. Despite having numerous silverbacks, the family coexisted peacefully until their 2010 divorce. While silverback Mishaya walked away with 10 individuals, the Nshongi group, led by the dominating silverback Nshongi, stayed with 26 individuals.

Mishaya Gorilla Family

The family has got over Twelve (12) members in total with one (1) silverback making up the group.

After Mishaya left Nshongi in 2010, he gained a reputation for inciting conflicts amongst gorilla families to both defend his own and grab females from other groups. Although he was able to assemble a small group of females, he sustained injuries during a confrontation with an untamed gorilla family. Fortunately, there were gorilla conservation doctors nearby to heal him. There are now 12 members in the group, Mishaya being the lone dominant silverback.

Kahungye Gorilla family.

The family has got over thirteen (13) members in total and three silverbacks.

In the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, there are twenty-seven (27) members of this gorilla family—three of whom are silverbacks—making it one of the newest to have become habituated. October 2011 saw its opening to tourists; almost a year later, this gorilla family split up to form the Busingye gorilla family. Currently leading the gang is Gwigi, a strong silverback whose name translates to “door.”

Bweza Gorilla family.

The family has got over   nine individuals with one silverback.

In September 2009, tourists could witness the Nshongi gorilla family, which was the largest habituated group in Bwindi National Park history. However, in July 2010, silverback Mishaya separated to form his own gorilla family. But Silverback Bweza decided to break away from the organization just two years after it was founded, thereby starting the Bweza family. The gorilla family became open to tourists in December 2012.

Busingye Gorilla Family

The family has got over 9 members with one silverback.

In 2013, this group became accessible to the public. After severing ties with the Kahungye family in 2012, Busingye is the leader of this group of nine. Busingye is notorious for his regular battles and for snatching female gorillas from nearby groups, even though his name means “peace.” He takes advantage of any chance to assert his dominance and ambition.

Uganda Gorilla Families in Buhoma Area of Bwindi National Park

The Mubare Gorilla Family, the Habinyanja Gorilla Family, and the Rushegura Gorilla Family all call the Buhoma Region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest home.

Mubare Gorilla family

This group has got 9 individuals plus one silverback.

The Mubare gorilla family is the oldest mountain gorilla family in all of Uganda, having acclimatized to people since 1993. The name of this family was given to it when it was first seen on Mubare Hill, deep in the heart of the Bwindi impenetrable forest.

Trackers first found this group of eighteen animals, with Ruhondeza the dominant male silverback. By 2012, the gorilla family had only five surviving members after the loss of one of its young.

Many of this gorilla family’s members left as time went on; some joined other groups, while others died in the bloody battles that were going on at the time.

The silverback Ruhondeza’s leadership was tested in March 2012 when a wild gorilla tribe attacked his family and made off with a few females.  At that point, Ruhondeza had grown old and feeble after losing the battle, and he had gone to the adjacent town of Forest to seek refuge.

Despite everything, the wildlife biologists at Bwindi National Park monitored his development until his untimely death on June 27, 2020, while he slept. This well-mannered silverback, whose age was estimated to be over fifty, was interred near the park’s administrative buildings, where his gravestone is still visible today.

His name, which translates to “sleepy friend,” sums up this silverback’s reputation as a gentle but lethargic boss.

Habinyanja Gorilla Family

The group size includes seventeen members with two silverbacks.

Location: Buhoma – Kahororo – Rubina

One of the very first gorilla groups to welcome visitors is this one. Makara, who took Habinyanja’s post as group leader, is in charge of the 17-strong organization. Silverback Mugurisi (the old male) commanded this group when it became habituated in 1997. Since the group was originally observed next to a swamp in Bwindi, they were given the name “Habinyanja” (place with water) in Rukiga.

Mugurisi was succeeded by his two brothers, Rwansigazi and Mwirima, who had distinct personalities after he passed away from old age.

Rwansigazi adored exploring new areas of the forest, whereas Mwirima preferred to stick within a narrow area. The two brothers had a calm separation in 2002. While Mirimas group was renamed the Rushegura family, Rwansigazi left with a portion of the group and kept the name “Habinyanja”.

Rushegura gorilla family

This group consists of nineteen individuals including one silverback.

In 2002, this group broke away from the bigger Habinyanja family in a place that became known as Rushegura. The dominant silverback Mwirima had twelve (12) animals with him at the time of separation, five (5) of whom were female.

By 2010, the number of members of the family had increased to nineteen (19). Devoted to protecting his family, Silverback Mwirima had endured numerous attacks by savage gorilla tribes throughout the years.

This family finally made Bwindi National Park their permanent home, however, they still occasionally crossed into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which borders Bwindi National Park. Fortunately, this troop has lived in harmony with the people of the nearby village and has been frequently spotted in the gardens of the gorilla Forest camp.

Nkuringo Gorilla Groups.

The Nkuringo Area of Bwindi Forest, which is home to the Nkuringo Gorilla Family and one of the more physically demanding yet rewarding regions in the forest to enjoy gorilla safaris, is one of the most popular destinations for such excursions.

Nkuringo Gorilla Family.

The group size includes nineteen with 2 silverbacks.

This group, which now numbers nineteen members, was led by Nkuringo the Great Silverback at first. Rafiki and Safari, two silverbacks, were his legacy after he died in 2008. His son Safari succeeded him.

The name “Nkuringo” in Rukiga comes from the fact that the group was initially observed close to a circular hill. The group had regular interactions with people because they lived close to the communities outside the park and frequently sneaked in to eat crops, which led to disputes.

For the community to benefit from tourism and consider gorilla conservation as providing them with economic prospects, it was decided in 2008 to acclimate the group.

Uganda Gorilla Families in Ruhija Area.

The Bitukura Gorilla Group and the Oruzogo Gorilla Family are found in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest’s Ruhija region.

Bitukura Gorilla Family.

The group has got  14 individuals with 4 silverbacks.

When this gorilla troop was initially spotted close to the River Bitukura in the Ruhija area of Bwindi Forest National Park, it was given its name. In October 2008, after a period of acclimatization that started in July 2007, it was opened to tourists.

This gorilla family is unique because, unlike other groups whose habituation process takes two (2) years, it was fully habituated and prepared for tourism in just 15 months.

Since the Bitukura and Kyaguriro families are close, it is believed that their tight relationship has accelerated the process of habituation by bringing the former into frequent touch with rangers from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Over time, several of the original 24 members joined other families, reducing the total to just 14.

Of the four silverbacks that the Bitukura family now owns, Ndahura, the dominant silverback, is oddly the second youngest rather than the eldest.

After serving as the family’s head for nearly 40 years, silverback Karamuzi retired, and he was succeeded by him. The alpha silverback of the group, Ndahura, took great care to protect the new member who was added in 2013.

Oruzogo Gorilla Family.

The group size includes twenty-five with 2 silverbacks.

This gorilla family, headed by the silverback Tibirikwata, first welcomed visitors in 2011. Since then, the family has grown in size as a result of several births within the group.

A female adult named Ntamurungi gave birth in the month of June 2011, and a second adult female named Musi did the same in the month of October of the same year.

The gorilla family experienced great delight in 2012 when Kakoba, another adult female, gave birth to twins in the month of March.

Mgahinga National Park Gorillas.

Nyakagezi Gorilla Family.

This group size includes 10 individuals with 3 silverbacks.

The overwhelming silverback. The head of the only habituated family found in Mgahinga National Park is Mark. The Silverback family, who held the position of chief, frequently traveled over the frontiers of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Nonetheless, this group has stayed within the Ugandan border since November 2012, and in May 2013, a new baby was welcomed, bringing the total number of families to nine.

Because of this family’s high degree of mobility in the past, the Uganda Wild Life Authority, which is in charge, decided that permits for gorilla trekking should only be issued at the UWA headquarters inside the National Park.

Kyaguriro Gorilla Family.

This group consists of 15 members with 2 silverbacks.

This family of gorillas has completed their habituation phase, however it is not yet open for visitor activity. Still, conservationists keep a careful eye on it and study it. It was led by the dominant silverback Zeus before an invasion by the rival gorilla Rukina. But Zeus, who was getting older, was sent into exile after Rukina’s attack, where he ultimately perished.

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