Gorilla Families in Rwanda : Rwanda is one of the famous safari destinations even without the fancy vast national parks like in South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania. This is because Rwanda is blessed with a portion of few last surviving mountain gorillas in the world. The mountain gorillas which are listed as endangered are only found in three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Republic of Rwanda emerges as the best gorilla trekking destination among all the three due to proximity and convenience of getting to Volcanoes national park (the popular gorilla trekking destination) from Kigali city.

Gorillas live in groups or families led by a dominant male known as silverback. This title is derived from the description of the streak of white fur that appears on their backs as they mature. Gorillas in Rwanda are found only in Volcanoes national park and boasts of the most interesting gorilla families, including those that were habituated by the legendary Dan Fossey.

How many gorilla families are in Rwanda?

Rwanda has only 11 habituated gorilla families that are open to visitors for trekking and these include:

Susa A Family.

The Susa A family is the largest habituated group with 33 members and two silverbacks. The family initially consisted 42 individuals before it was split. This led to the formation of Susa B or officially known as the Karisimbi family. The Susa group has the honors of being the first family Dian Fossey started her study when she first arrived in Rwanda. It’s also one of the hardest groups to trek as it lives on mount Karisimbi one of the hardest volcanoes to hike.

susa gorilla family

Karisimbi family.

The Karisimbi family was created as result of some members breaking away from the main Susa group. The group is made of 16 individuals and resides on the higher slopes of Mount Karisimbi. The group now stands as the hardest to trek thanks to the defensive strategy employed by its silverback.

Its leader led his family to the higher slopes as a measure to limit interaction with other gorillas to avoid trouble and also protect his group from aggressive silverbacks. If you need a physical challenge this is the best group to trek.

karisimbi gorilla family b

Sabyinyo family.

The family gets its name from residing along the slopes of mount Sabinyo. This makes it one of the easiest groups to track as mount Sabinyo is relatively easier to hike than the other mountains in the park. The group was formed after the death of the leader of group 13. This forced a few of his females to team up with other deserters from group 11 to form the Sabinyo family. Its leading silverback is one of the largest silverbacks to be recorded.

Amahoro family.

This family is named after the peaceful character it portrays among all members. The term Amahoro stands for peace in the local Kinyarwanda and this group is noted as one of the most peaceful families. This peace has costed it more family members as individuals especially females are usually taken by aggressive silverbacks and their leader does not giving back a fight. It currently has 18 members and one of the hardest to track.

amahoro gorilla family

Agashya family.

This group was formerly called group 13 until it was renamed Agashya. It was known as group 13 because it initially had 13 members who were pioneers of this group. The group has steadily increased in number and now boasts approximately 27 members. It also resides on the slopes of mount. Sabinyo.

Umubano family.

The Umubano family was created after Charles the dominant silverback broke away from Amahoro family to start a family of his own. The group has 13 members and was named Umubano which means living together. Even after splitting, the two families live peacefully within the same territory.

Hirwa family.

This is one of the newest groups with 16 members led by one silverback. It was birthed from a faction of Sabinyo and Agashya families. More members joined the group to add up to the current number. The family roams around the slopes of mount. Sabinyo and Mgahinga. The word Hirwa means lucky and this can be witnessed by the twins that were born to the silverback.

hirwa gorilla family

Kwitonda family.

Kwitonda group adds up to 23 members with 4 silverbacks. It resides on the slopes of mount. Muhavura and named after Kwitonda, the lead silverback. The group originated from D.R. Congo to Rwanda. Their former leader was characterized as a humble leader.

Ugenda family.

Ugenda has eleven gorillas with two silverbacks. The group is always on the move that’s why it was named “Ugenda” loosely translated as mobile and is one of the easier groups to trek and found around mount Bisoke. Guests who feel they want to trek but need an easier terrain, this is the best recommended group.

Bwenge family.

Bwenge is translated as wisdom and this group has 11 members with a sole silverback. It was named after Bwenge the silverback.

Visit destination Rwanda to find more about the different gorilla families therein and meeting them in camera is an experience that isn’t easily compared to any other safari.

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