Uganda Gorilla Families
Uganda Gorilla Families article will guide you on the Gorillas and which families they belong to, where you can find them (Gorilla Trekking Sector) and how many you will find. Mountain gorillas are endangered primate species which are found in four national parks in Africa including Bwindi Impenetrable national park, Mgahinga gorilla national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is the most visited gorilla destination because it harbors the highest number of mountain gorillas in the whole world and they are found in Bwindi impenetrable national park.
Travelers who come to visit the Uganda gorilla families engage in gorilla trekking activity which is the most popular activity in Uganda where visitors above the age of fifteen moves into the dense tropical forests in search of the mountain gorillas and once found visitors spend one hour with the gorillas in their natural habitat. Gorilla trekking in Uganda is carried out in two protected areas namely Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park.
Gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park
Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park is located in south western Uganda in Kanungu district. The park was gazetted into a national park in 1991 mainly to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas and was declared a UNESCO natural world heritage site in 1994. Bwindi impenetrable forest national park is a home of 19 habituated gorilla families which are found in four sectors namely the Rushaga sector in the southern part, Nkuringo sector in the South, Buhoma sector in the North and Ruhija sector in the Eastern part of Bwindi forest national park.
Uganda Gorilla families in the Rushaga sector: Rushaga is a sector located in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable national park and harbors the highest number of habituated gorilla families in the park. There are 8 habituated Gorilla groups in Rushaga sector and they include
- Nshongi family, Nshongi family was named after river Nshongi in the Rushaga sector and was the largest family with about 35 members to be habituation in 2006 and derives its name from a river close to where it was first sighted. Nshongi family is comprised of 18 members with 1 silverback.
- Mishaya family, Mishaya family split from the Nshongi family in 2010 because of disagreements between Mishaya silverback which led Mishaya to split with some females in the group and create his own family. Mishaya family is comprised of 7 members with 1 silverback Mwine who leads the family and was named after Mishaya silverback which died at the age of 28 years in 2014.
- Kahungye family, Kahungye family derives its name from Kahungye hill where the gorillas were first sighted. The family was habituated in 2011 and had 27 members; the family later split and formed another family called Busingye. Kahungye family is currently comprised of 17 members with 3 silverbacks where Rumanzi is the dominant silverback followed by Gwigi and Ruhamuka.
- Busingye family, Busingye family split from Kahungye family in 2012 and derives its name from a local word which implies peace. The group was named after the dominant silverback Busingye which is found of fighting other wild gorillas so as to take the females to add in his group. Busingye family is now comprised of 9 members with one dominant silverback Busingye.
- Bweza family, Bweza is also a family that split from the Nshongi family due to the disputes. Bweza family was habituated in 2012 and is comprised of 12 members with 2 silverbacks under the dominancy of Kakono silverback.
- Bikyingi family, Bikyingi family is a new habituated group in Rushaga sector which is composed of 15 members with one dominant silverback Bikyingi.
- Rwigi family, Rwigi is also a new habituated gorilla family that split from the Kahungye family. Rwigi family is currently comprised of 6 members with 1 dominant silverback Rwigi.
- Mucunguzi family, the name Mucunguzi means savior and the group split from the Bweza family. The group was named after the dominant silverback Mucunguzi who was the youngest and third in command silverback in the Bweza family. The family is currently comprised of 8 members with 1 dominant silverback.
Gorilla families in Buhoma sector: Buhoma sector is located in the northern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and is the most visited sector in Bwindi forest due to easy accessibility to other tourism destinations and it harbors 4 habituated gorilla families namely
- Mubare family, Mubare family was the first group to be habituated in Bwindi forest hence the oldest. It was habituated in 1993 and it derives its name from Mubare hill where the group was first sighted. Mubare group had 12 members after habituation and under Ruhondenza the dominant silverback which died at the age of 50 years and now the family is comprised of 10 members with a new baby and one dominant silverback
- Habinyanja family, the group derives its name from Nyanja swamp where it was first sighted and was open for trekking in 1999. The group is comprised of 17 members and is dominated by Makara silverback a local name which means charcoal.
- Rushegura family, Rushegura family split from Habinyanja family and was opened for trekking in 2000. Rushegura family is the most easily accessible group in Buhoma in that it lives near the park headquarters and is known for welcoming and being friendly to the visitors. Rushegura family is comprised of 21 members and is dominated by Mwirima silverback who is a peaceful and calm leader.
- Katwe family, Katwe is a new gorilla family in the Buhoma sector and was habituated together with the Christmas family in the Nkuringo sector. Katwe family is believed to have 9 members with one dominant silverback Katwe though the exact number of members is not yet clear.
Uganda Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector
Nkuringo is a sector located in the southern part of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park and is composed of 3 habituated gorilla families namely
- Nkuringo family, Nkuringo family was habituated in 1997 and open for trekking in 2004, it was the first gorilla group to be habituated in Nkuringo sector and is known as the first group to give birth to a set of twins in 2004 which later died after one year. Nkuringo family is comprised of 12 members and dominated by Rafiki silverback a Swahili word which means friend.
- Bushaho family, Bushaho is one of the toughest groups to trek in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park comprising of 8 members and is dominated by Bahati silverback. Bahati and other members of the group were once in the Nkuringo family while others were unhabituated from the wild.
- Christmas family, this is the latest and third group to be habituated in Nkuringo sector. The group was named after the dominant silverback Christmas that was born on Christmas day and is comprised of 9 members though only 6 individuals are seen during trekking.
Uganda Gorilla families in Ruhija sector: Ruhija is also a sector located in the eastern part of Bwindi Impenetrable national park harboring 4 habituated gorilla families including
- Oruzogo family, Oruzogo is the only family in the Ruhija sector with the highest number of members. The group was open for gorilla trekking activity in 2011 and after habituation, it comprised 25 members with 2 silverbacks but currently, it’s comprised of 17 members with one silverback Tibikwata as the dominant of the group. Oruzogo family is a famous gorilla group in Bwindi national park because it’s the most playful and joyful family and also had a set of twins by Kankonda female.
- Bitukura family, Bitukura family derives its name from a river where it was first habituated and was open for trekking in 2008 and comprised of 24 members after habituation but later some members split to form another group. Bitukura family is currently comprised of 14 members and is dominated by Ndahura the second youngest silverback in the group.
- Kyaguriro family, Kyaguriro family was habituated in 1999 and was the first group to be habituated in Ruhija sector with 20 members and was dominated by a silverback called Rukina who was struck by lightning in 2015. The group later split into two that is Kyaguriro A which is comprised of 10 members and led by Rukara silverback.
- Mukiza family, this family is also known as Kyaguriro B because it split from the Kyaguriro family and is comprised of 10 members with a dominant silverback Mukiza.
Gorilla families in Mgahinga gorilla national park: Mgahinga gorilla national park is located in southwestern Uganda in Kisoro district 9 to 10 hours’ drive from Kampala city. Mgahinga gorilla national park was gazette in 1991 just like Bwindi impenetrable forest national park so as to protect and conserve the endangered mountain gorillas. Mgahinga gorilla national park is a home of one habituated gorilla family called Nyakagezi.
- Nyakagezi family derived its name from a certain place in Mgahinga forest national park which has a lot of good looking vegetation where the gorillas used to feed most of the time. Nyakagezi family used to cross borders to Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past which made gorilla trekking activity in Mgahinga gorilla national park difficult in that visitors were afraid of buying a gorilla trekking permit with a possibility of not seeing the gorilla family. Presently Nyakagezi is settled in Mgahinga gorilla national park and the park has 8 available gorilla trekking permits for visitors on a daily basis. Nyakagezi family is comprised of 10 members with 4 silverbacks, 2 juveniles, 2 adult females and 2 infants. The group is dominated by Mark who overthrew his father Bugingo and is assisted by Mafia and Mathew in his leadership.
When to visit the gorilla families in Uganda
Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park can be visited all year round though the best time is during the dry season in the months of June, July, August, September, December, January, and February. The dry season is also known as the peak season and during the dry season the gorilla trekking trails in the forests are passable, short grass which gives you a clear view of the gorillas compared to the wet season when the trails are muddy and slippery which make gorilla trekking difficult.