There are 11 Habituated Gorilla families in Uganda and 1 group which is available for research. Gorilla Families in Uganda include: –
Plus, the two Gorilla groups that are tracked on the Gorilla Habituation Experience.
Rushegura Gorilla Family Group.
This group or family is as well referred to as the R-group, located in Buhoma (one of the sections in Bwindi Impenetrable National park) and having a family size of 18 members. Rushegura is a name derived from “Ebishegura”- a tree species that was abundant in the home area of the new family, of a place where the separation took place between this group from the larger family of Habinyanja in February 2002.The separation was started by “Mwirima” who took with him 7 members/ started with 12 individuals and with 5 females inclusive. Rushegura group is known to be the calmest family & usually stays in the vicinity of Buhoma village. They used to cross to neighboring DRC but now came back & enjoy the peaceful environments of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.Dont get surprised because they even wander around lodge gardens or visit the Souvenir shop of Gorilla forest camp as they are also very curious. Tracking time for this family group tends to be shorter in recent times since they have stayed around the park headquarters. This family group is headed by Kabukjo the silverback,4 Blackbacks,4 Adult females,3 Juveniles,4 Infants making it a total of 16
Habinanja Gorilla Family Group
This group is migratory, sometimes it can be sighted an hour’s time before arriving at Buhoma trail head but they reside more in the parts of the North end of the forest. The family was Habituated in 1997 & first visited by tourists in 1999. Habinanja is a name derived from Rukiga word “Nyanja” which simply means a place with water – near a swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable park the group was first seen/sighted. It is a larger family of 17 individuals with 2 silverbacks inclusive, being led by Makara(silverback) residing in Buhoma village (ranging from Kahororo – Rubon). It normally takes a full day-5 hours or more tracking this group. This family consists of 1 black-back,5 adult females,1 sub- adult,3 Juveniles & 6 infants. This family group is very fascinating with a lot of drama and commotion, this is due to the power struggles between the dominant silverbacks and family fights for leadership. The adult females are led by the shrewd alpha female called Kisho.
Mubare Gorilla family group
This family is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda, located in Buhoma section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with a size of 9 individuals including 1 silverback(Ruhondeza). The name was derived from Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest where Gorillas were first sighted by trackers and was fully habituated in 1993. This family started with 12 family members, headed by the dominant silverback” Ruhondeza”. In a few years the group grew to 18 individuals, unfortunately, due to fights with wild gorilla groups there was loss of members and death of a baby Gorilla. In the meantime, Ruhondeza successor Kanyonyi managed to expand the family again and increased it to eight members including a baby named Kashundwe.
Nkuringo Gorilla family group
The Nkuringo family name was derived from a Rukiga word “Round hill” and the habituation process was concluded in 2004. One of the most important reasons for their habituation were the problems they created for the surrounding local communities by feeding on their bananas, sweet potatoes and destroying their other crops, so by opening up the gorilla family for visitors, the community turns out to directly benefit from tourism by opening up the gorilla family for tourists and it formed a protection ground for the gorillas as well. The family is located in Nkuringo having 19 members with 2 silverbacks inclusive, initially the family was led by the silverback” Nkuringo” who died in April 2008, leaving behind 2 silverbacks (Safari & Rafiki) in the family. In November 2008, the Nkuringo family expanded and gave birth to twins Katungi & Muhozi. Unfortunately, Katungi died at the age of 1.5 years due to illness. 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.
Bitukura Gorilla Family Group
The Bitukura Gorilla group family consists of 12 members including 4 silverbacks, located in Ruhija (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and this family learns so quickly- so normally it takes two years of habituation training but this family was ready for tourists/visitors in 15 months. Gorilla groups gain and lose members and the Bitukura group originally consisted of 24 gorillas however other groups recruit, in the gorilla family there are feuds and some gorillas simply leave rather than fight. Unlike some other families, this family gets along with one another, there has been peace and harmony in the group and no usual infighting that is found in other groups. The Gorilla Family is being led by Ndahura and consists of 4 silverbacks, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles ever playful and 3 infants. It is unusual to have these many Silverbacks in one group but they get along. If you want to track the Bitikura Gorilla Group, it is best to stay in the Ruhija area of the park, if you do stay in Buhoma – you have to leave quite early in order to make the gorilla tracking activity in time.
Oruzogo Gorilla Family Group
The Oruzogo group is the second habituated gorilla family living in the Ruhija village area. This family consists of 17 individuals and headed by Tibirikwata(Silverback). The family opened greatly for tourism in the mid-2011, not because of its size but due to the playful Juveniles & toddlers in the group that keeps the tourists entertained and since then it has experienced growth thanks to a number of births. Female adult Ntamurungi gave birth to a baby gorilla in June 2011 and Musi gave birth in October 2011. More joy came when a set of twins was born in March 2012.Having the twin mother called “Kakoba”. There are also other members in the family like Busungu (meaning “short tempered”), Kaganga (“the giant one”) and Bwoba (“the coward”).
Mishaya Gorilla Family group
This is another family of Gorillas which resides in Rushaga section of Bwindi forest and gorilla trekking is one of the main activity practiced. This group consists of 12 members led by “Mishaya” who is a fighter with 1 dominant silverback. Note carefully in the world of gorilla families again like in our human families and friendship groups that number can change. there is a silverback which brings in other females into their groups or be joined by break-away members of other groups. The Gorilla Family Group was originally part of the Nshongi Gorilla Family Group but instead broke away from the group. By the end of 2015, the group was 7 gorillas but like we noticed earlier, gorilla families sometimes are joined by friends or even acquire more member in successful battles.
The leader of the Mishaya gorilla group is Mishaya and he is a fighter – not too long ago the gorilla family was in a battle with another un-habituated gorilla group and some members of the group were treated for injuries.
Nshongi Gorilla Family Group
This is the largest family group ever habituated, located in Rushaga covers a size of 36 members and including 5 silverbacks. It was officially opened for tourism in September 2009. This family was named after the river close where the family was first sighted,” Nshongi” derived from “Omushongi Gwoboki”. NB. most gorilla families in Uganda usually do consist of 25 individuals with 1/2 silverbacks, this family is a rare group, what is more remarkable is that the three silverbacks and seven black backs lived in peace with each other and did not make/have fights for leadership. The Nshongi Gorilla family group is led by Nshongi, who is not even the oldest silverback in the family.
Kahungye Gorilla Family Group
This family group is one of the most recently habituated Gorilla family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and was opened up for tourism in October 2011 but in less than a year this family split up forming a new group called Busingye. Before the separation this family consisted of 27 members and 3 silverbacks. Dominant Silverback” Gwigi” is the leader of this family, and the name “Gwigi” means “door” in the local language.
Busingye Gorilla Family Group
After having been formed out of the split of Kahungye family group, this group has got 7 members including 1 silverback. It’s located in Rushaga section of Bwindi. This family is the newest group gotten out of the Kahungye family split. “Busingye means Peace “surprisingly this ambitious silverback is known for his legendary fighting with other gorilla families, he likes showing his power/dominancy and whenever encountering a wild family he mercilessly grabs a female to add to his own family.
Bweza Gorilla family group
Bweza Gorilla family group resides in the section of Rushaga with 9 individuals including 1 silverback. Originally Nshongi Family group was the largest group ever habituated but in July 2010 silverback Mishaya also began its own group, later 2 years Bweza another silverback decided to separate himself from the rest of the families. According to the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers they thought that they would get back together but instead drifted further and hence this family (Bweza) was opened up for Tourism in December 2012.
Kyaguriro Gorilla family group
Although the Kyaguriro family is habituated, it has not been visited by tourists/visitors until now but it is put aside for research purposes only. It consists of 15 individuals including 2 silverbacks and resides in Ruhija section of Bwindi. By closely keeping contact with this group, conservationists have been able to learn a lot about the mountain gorillas of Bwindi, including some remarkable differences with the mountain gorillas that live in the Virunga Volcanoes. Initially the family was headed by an aging silverback “Zeus”. Unfortunately, he died in exile after being banished into the forest by his rival” Rukina”.
Nyakagezi Gorilla Family group
Nyakagezi Group is only hosted by Mgahinga National park and being led by the dominant silverback called “Mark” who likes travelling and keeps on crossing borders between Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The family consists of individuals including 3 silverbacks. Lately it seems they are trying to regain their Ugandan citizenship again as they have been back in Mgahinga National Park since November 2012 and are likely to stay for a longer while. In May 2013 more good news came in when a new baby was born, increasing the group to 10 members. Due to quite unpredictable behaviour, permits for this group can only be booked at the park headquarters of Uganda Wildlife Authority.