Bwindi impenetrable national park (BINP) and Mgahinga Gorilla national park (MGNP) are home to over half of the world’s 1004 mountain gorillas. The rest live in Rwanda in the Virunga mountains and Democratic Republic of Congo our close neighboring countries.
Gorillas survive on mainly vegetation diet, feeding on steams and bamboo shoots. These great apes are considered to be highly intelligent, because they have been observed using tools and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.
Gorillas move in family groups that range from a couple of individuals to more than 40 members. They are being led by a dominant male known as the “Silverback” for the white hair that develops on it’s back at about 14 years of age. Adult male Gorillas weigh up to 440 pounds and can reach a height of six feet when standing on two legs. Female Gorillas have a gestation period of 8.5 months and nurture their young ones for several years. They generally give birth to one baby every four to six years.
Mountain Gorilla tracking takes place at 5 locations Buhoma, Ruhija, Nkuringo, Rushaga in Bwindi impenetrable national park and Ntebeko in Mgahinga Gorilla national National park. All locations combined give a total of over 18 groups however, the permit number are limited because only 8 people are allowed to visit a gorilla family for only 1 hour per a day.
Uganda has 39 Gorilla groups and only 12 groups are habituated for tourism purposes; 11 of these groups are in Bwindi and 1 group in Mgahinga park, the 13th group is in Ruhija area Bwindi and its used for research.
Every Gorilla group is good for tracking depending on one’s interest as there is no universal standards for measuring good or bad and these groups include:
Rushegura Gorilla Group
This group is one of the largest Gorilla groups in Bwindi and it is found in Buhoma area in the southern part of Bwindi. It was habituated in 2000 and later opened up for tourists in 2002 when Mwirima and a group of other members parted ways with the Habinyanja group.
Rushegura is led by Kabukojo the current silverback following the death of Mwirima in March 2014, 4 adult females, 4 blackbacks, 3 juveniles and 4 infants making a total number of 16 members.
This group is recorded as the easiest group to trek because it often visits the Bwindi lodge gardens, UWA head offices and around the waterfall.
Mubare Gorilla family
Mubare Gorilla family is the oldest habituated Gorilla group in Uganda and it was habituated in 1998 naming it Mubare after the Mubare hills where the family was first sighted by trackers.
This Gorilla family has 9 members is currently led by Kanyonyi the silverback following the death of his father Ruhondeza who died in 2013 after having a serious fight with a black back in the family.
Habinyanja Gorilla family
Habinyanja Gorilla family is among the three habituated Gorilla families found in Buhoma area of Bwindi impenetrable national park. The group was habituated in 1997 and first tracked by tourists in 1999.
This Gorilla family was named from the word “Nyanja” which means a place of water where the group was first sighted.
Historically, it’s recorded that this family had 30 members which is quite a big number compared to other Gorilla families. Mugurusi the former silverback passed away because of the old age and this led to serious brawls over leadership between siblings Makara, Mwirima and Rwansigazi. According to these brawls the Habinyanja was divided into two families Rushegura for Mwirima and Habinyanja for Rwanzigazi.
Nkuringo Gorilla family
Nkuringo Gorilla family is among the most challenging treks with in Bwindi impenetrable national park and it is the only Gorilla family in this sector.
This group has 12 members with 2 silverbacks led by Rafiki the dominant silverback who has led the family for almost a decade. It was originally habituated in 2004 and named after the Nkuringo Hill where the family was first spotted destroying the crops of local farmers.
Rushaga Gorilla family
The Rushaga Gorilla section of Bwindi impenetrable national park was established in 2009 and is recorded to have the largest number of habituated Gorilla families.
This region is the best place for Gorilla habituation and it has 5 mountain Gorilla families which include;
Kahunje, Mishaya, Nshongi, Busingye and Bweza
Mishaya Gorilla family
This Gorilla family was formed from Nshonji group and was led by the silverback known as Mishaya. It did not face any challenges when it came to harem of females simply because there were no male blackbacks in this group.
Mishaya the former silverback was part of Nshongi group who left with a few females to establish his own family in July 2010. He was known as a fighter who used to defend his family from intruders and often starts interactions with other groups.
This mountain Gorilla family is currently under the leadership of Mwiine the alpha silverback who is also doing a great job.
Nshonji Gorilla family
Nshonji family was habituated in 2007 and introduced to tourists in 2009 for trekking and it was named after River Nshongi where this Gorilla family was first sighted. River Nshonji has a deep colour similar to honey, as honey is called Omushonji in the local language the River was named Nshonji.
Kahunje Gorilla family
This Gorilla family is also found in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest. Kahunje family was named after the hill called Kahunje were the Gorilla group was first sighted. It is composed of 17 members and led by Rumanzi the silverback and it was opened up for trekking in 2011 after being habituated for two years.
Busingye Gorilla family
Busingye Gorilla group was part of Kahunje Gorilla group before the two silverbacks Rumanzi and Rwigi had a brawl which led to the establishment of Busingye family under the leadership of Rwigi the current silverback of this group.
The group is composed of 10 family members 1 silverback (Rwigi), 2 juveniles, 2 infant males, 4 adult females and 1 sub adult.
Bweza Gorilla family
This Gorilla group was also part of the Nshonji family, it was formed in 2013 under the leadership of Kakono the silverback and it is composed of 12 members. Friend them and follow the drama.