Full List of Uganda Gorilla Families : In a country where almost half the World’s population of mountain gorillas is found will definitely be considered the must-visit destination for unforgettable gorilla trekking experiences. Uganda has two incredible gorilla trekking places that include the iconic Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park as well as the small Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and all these places are in the south-west of the country.
The most recent mountain gorilla survey placed the number of these Giant Apes within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park at over 450 individuals and about 80 gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These two places boast of over 22 habituated Gorilla families in Uganda.
Four trailheads are found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and these include Nkuringo, Ruhija, Buhoma and Rushaga with 21 habituated gorilla families while Nyakagezi Gorilla family is found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
BUHOMA GORILLA SECTOR.
Buhoma was the first sector to be established, making it the most famous with four habituated gorilla families that include;
Mubare Gorilla Family
Being the first habituated gorilla family in Bwindi, it was opened in 1998 and was named after the hills of Mubare, where it was first spotted by rangers. At the time of establishment, its 12 members were led by Ruhondeza but after years of continuous conflicts with wild silverbacks, different gorillas were killed while others forcefully taken.
This left the family with only five members but more members including another silverback joined the family, bringing their number to eleven 2013. As of 2022, there are 10 individuals that are 6 silverbacks, 1 sub-adult female and 3 playful infants.
Opened for trekking in 1999, Habinyanja was the second family to be opened in Bwindi with more than 25 members. Its name came from the phrase “Nyanja” that means “water body” because it was first seen around a lush swamp. At the time of formation, the family had fully grown-up and strong silverbacks, and this is one of the reasons for the endless fights as each one of them wanted to dominate.
It was during these fights that the family broke-away to form another family named Rushegura. At the time of writing, there are 17 members that include 1 silverback, 1 sub-adult female, 5 adult females, 1 blackback, 3 juveniles and 6 infants.
Rushegura gorilla family was born from Habinyanja and opened for trekking in 2002 with over 12 individuals that included 5 females. Given the endless conflicts in their natal family (Habinyanja)-resulting from the numerous number of silverbacks, some members were taken. The family name originated from dominant tree species in their home range, locally known as “Ebishegura”.
This is one of the easiest-to-trek gorilla families, given the fact that its members prefer to move around or near Buhoma Village. Over 17 are found in the family (at the time of writing) with 1 silverback (named Kabukojo), 4 adult females, 4 blackbacks, 4 juveniles and 4 infants.
Being one of the newer gorilla families in Bwindi, Impenetrable National Park, and Katwe was opened for trekking in August 2018 after undergoing the mandatory habituation process. This family brought a lot of hope and increased the number of gorilla permits in Buhoma sector. It features 7 members-1 silverback, 2 adult females, 2 blackbacks and 2 infants.
Muyambi Gorilla Family
Established in 2019, Muyambi is the newest Gorilla family in Buhoma sector and its members were former members of Habinyanja family. It is one of the few families that welcomed babies in 2020 (in May) and now has about 7 members that include 1 silverback (named Muyambi), several females and infants.
RUHIJA GORILLA SECTOR.
Bitukura Gorilla Family
Habituation of Bitukura Gorilla Family was initiated in 2007 but unlike other families that take 2-3 years of training before being opened for trekking, it only took one year and three months. This was all because members of the family had come face to face with Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers several times thus were not new to human presence.
There are now 13 individuals that include 4 silverbacks (dominated by Ndahura), 4 adult females, 2 juveniles as well as 3 infants.
Oruzogo welcomed its first visitors in 2011 after undergoing habituation like all the other families. First, it is a moderate-to-trek family and secondly, it is widely popularized for preferring areas dominated by Alchornea hitela, an exceptional floral species-locally known as “Oruzogo”.
Oruzogo family was in the recent years popular for its funny and frisky infants that have now become juveniles. Presently about 17 make up this gorilla family (at the time of writing) and they include 2 silverbacks, 5 adult females, 2 blackbacks, 2 sub-adult females as well as a number of juveniles.
Known as the “Research family”, Kyaguliro gorilla family is rarely visited by trekkers because it was set aside for Research purposes. Habituation began in 1995 and was completed by 7th April 2015. It was initially under the leadership of Rukina, a wonderful silverback that was killed by lightning and leadership was then taken over by a young and amateur silverback referred as “Mukiza”. However, his leadership wasn’t long-lived because its members were ambushed by an older immigrating silverback known as Rukara from Bitukura. The later took over leadership prompting Mukiza to leave with some members to form his own family, named after him.
Mukiza Gorilla Family
This is the latest gorilla family in Ruhija sector, established in 2015 following the exit of Mukiza left with a number of members. Following the fight with stronger immigrating silverback known as Rukara, Mukiza lost his authority over Kyaguliro. He later formed his own family that was later named after him and so far 10 members are found here, others being 4 adult females, 1 sub-adult female and 4 infants.
RUSHAGA GORILLA SECTOR.
Before the fights, Nshongi was the largest Gorilla Family within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park comprising of about 32 Individuals. Most of its members were lost to fights that also led to the formation of other gorilla families.
It came into existence since 2009 and got its name from the stunning River that flows through its home range. The first family to have broken away from Nshongi was Mishaya family in 2010 thus leaving only 26 individuals. Bweza Gorilla family was also formed when one of the silverbacks grabbed some members thus leaving less than 15 members behind. A new member was welcomed into Nshongi in May 2020 and presently there is 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult female, 2 juveniles as well as 3 infants.
Bikingi Gorilla Family
Bikingi Gorilla Family was first habituated in 2012, following its sighting within Rushaga sector. These were former members of Mishaya family as well as other non-habituated members who were living independently. Currently, about 15 members are found here and they include 1 silverback, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adult females, 2 juveniles as well as 5 infants.
Named after silverback Mishaya, this is one of the exciting Uganda Gorilla families and can only be trekked by 8 visitors each day. Silverback Mishaya walked out of his natal family (Nshongi) in July 2010 but while at Nshongi, he was a strong fighter.
For this behavior, he grabbed a number of adult females as well as non-habituated gorillas to form his family that later grew to 12 members. He unfortunately lost his life in 2014 leaving the family under the leadership of Mwine who was an inexperienced blackback at the time but has now matured into a respectable silverback.
Kahungye Gorilla Family
Kahungye Gorilla Family was opened for tourist visits in 2011 with about 29 members that included 3 silverbacks. However, intra-silverback rivalry split the family into two. It is from here that the iconic Busingye family was established when one of the unstoppable silverback left with a number of gorillas. Currently 3 silverbacks (dominated by Rumanzi), 3 adult females, 3 blackbacks, 3 sub-adult females, 3 juveniles and 2 infants are part of the 17 members in this family.
Members of Busingye were formerly part of Kahungye Gorilla Family. This family came into public notice in 2012 and was dominated by Busingye. The name means “peace” given the calm nature of its dominant silverback and currently there are about 9 members that comprise 1 silverback, 3adult females, 1 juvenile and 4 babies.
Members of Bweza were once members of Nshongi family that was once popular for being the largest in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. One of the silverbacks known as Mishaya grabbed some members in 2010 that include Bweza. Two years later, Bweza betrayed Mishaya, grabbing some members to form Bweza Gorilla family although these two families still remained in close contact. Because of this, UWA Park Rangers also thought they would reunite which didn’t happen and trekking began in 2014.
Being one of the newest gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, little information is available on Kutu. It has about 10 individuals that include 1 silverback known as Kutu, 4 adult females, 3 blackbacks and 2 infants.
Rwigi is another Gorilla Family within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, comprising of 10 members. The family was formed as a break-away family from Kahungye, also found within Rushaga region. It is from the conflicts between different silverbacks within Kahungye that silverback Rwigi left with some adult females and juveniles to form this remarkable troop.
Mucunguzi Gorilla Family
In the Rukiga dialect, “Mucunguzi” means a “savior” or “redeemer”, and this was the name given to one of the youngest silverbacks within Bweza Gorilla Family. He reportedly left his natal family to form his own family with 8 members.
NKURINGO GORILLA SECTOR.
Nkuringo Gorilla Family
Nkuringo is one of Uganda Gorilla Families and being the first to be opened in the sector, its habituation was completed in 2004. It was named after the round hills where the 17ember family was first spotted by Park Rangers. One thing visitors will never forget is the passing of silverback Rafiki on 1st June 2020. He left the family under the leadership of Rwamutwe (a strong and famous blackback). There are now about 11 individuals in Nkuringo Gorilla Family and they include 2 blackbacks, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adult females, 3 juveniles as well as 2 infants.
Bushaho Gorilla Family
The first time Bushaho Gorilla Family was sighted in Nkuringo sector was in 2012, after silverback Bahati walked away from Nkuringo. The absence wasn’t noticed there and then, until Park Rangers started a search for its members. It is from here that Bahati was found roaming with some member, leaving to close monitoring as well as habituation before being named Bushaho.
Launched in 2019, Christmas is one of the newest Gorilla Families found within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. There are over 9 members, although 6 individuals are normally spotted during gorilla treks. The 6 commonly-spotted individuals are 1 silverback (Christmas), 3 females, 1 black back and 1 infant.
GORILLA FAMILIES WITHIN MGAHINGA GORILLA NATIONAL PARK
Nyakagezi Gorilla Family
The small Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has only one habituated Gorilla Family, known for ranging within a large area, sometimes until the neighboring Parks of Volcanoes National Park and Virunga National Park (also within the Virunga Conservation Area). Nyakagezi family received a bundle of joy in May 2013 thus growing the number to 10 individuals that include 4 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants.