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  • Evelyn Nakazi

Bwindi Gorilla Groups

Gorilla Groups in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi National Park offers refuge to over 400 mountain gorillas out of about 880 individuals that are left on earth today and it boasts of about 36 gorilla groups. However, only habituated families are tracked each day by trekkers on safari in Uganda and 8 visitors are assigned to trek one family. A fact that these wild creatures move from one point to the other and depending on other factors, treks usually last for about 2 to 8 hours. The groups are widely distributed in the 4 main trailheads (Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo) where treks usually kick off in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Each family rewards trekkers with a unique story and hence rare experiences.

Below are some of the habituated gorilla groups for you to track in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park

Buhoma Area

This is probably the most famous and frequently visited sector in Bwindi National Park as it offers a variety of safari activities and accommodation options. It consists of habituated gorilla families like;

Mubare gorilla group

Mubare is at times known as M. Group and it is famous as the oldest troop. It was habituated in 1998. At first, it comprised 12 members but after the death of Ruhondeza silverback, the number dropped to 5 individuals. Around 2013, four other members joined the Mubare family and the number shot up to 9. Bear in mind that, the ease to trek this group varies, as you may spend nearly 5 hours while tracking its members unlike before when they used to roam around the park areas. This family was named after the Mubare Hills.

Habinyanja family

This was habituated in 1997 and received its first trekkers in 1999. Habinyanja was named after “Nyanja” which means the “body of water,” a swamp where it was discovered. The group has 18 gorillas and 2 silverbacks. Previously, it consisted of several members but because of continued fights, its members joined other groups. Trekking this group may require about 3 to 8 hours and a night at the Buhoma sector is the best option for you.

Rushegura gorilla family

This is another incredible gorilla family in the Buhoma area. It is one of the larger troops within Bwindi and it is a sister group to Habinyanja. This was habituated around 2000 and first tracked in 2002. It consists of 21 individuals, led by 1 silverback, black back, 5 adult females, 2 sub-adults, six juveniles and six infants. This is one of the best troops for you to explore and it is headed by Mwirima. Tracking these gorilla groups takes visitors less than 5 hours but this doesn’t guarantee 100% since these creatures may venture outside and the visitor’s trek can be prolonged. Rushegura gorilla family is another splinter gorilla family in the Buhoma sector it broke off from the Habinyanja gorilla group.

Ruhija Area

Oruzogo troop

Oruzogo gorilla family is a newly habituated troop in Bwindi National Park. It was first tracked in 2011 and consists of 23 individuals. It is led by Tibirikwata. The group welcomed babies in 2011 by Musi and Ntamurungi as well as Kakoba’s twins in 2012.

Bitukura family

Whereas other families take about 2 years to be habituated, the Bitukura troop took only one and half years and it was ready to be tracked. It features 14 members and a new baby was welcomed recently. Before, it had 24 but due to continued fights, other members were absorbed in other groups.

Kyaguriro troop

This is also called A and B group. It was habituated in 1995 mainly for research purposes by the German Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. Kyaguriro gorilla family had severe tragedy when Rukina silverback was hit by lightning on 7th April 2015. After his death, the family was headed by inexperienced young silverback “Mukiza” that was later ambushed by an immigrating adult silverback “Rukara” from the Bitukura group something that caused the split of the group into 2-Kyaguriro A (Rukara) and Kyaguriro B (Mukiza) in May 2016. The A and B gorilla families consist of Rukara has 10 members, 1 silverback, 2 black backs, 3 adult females, two juveniles, and two infants and the second family is composed of 10 individuals and they include 1 silverback, four adult female gorillas, 4 infants, and one sub-adult.

Rushaga Sector

Mishaya gorilla family

Mishaya group has 7 (seven) members and 1 silverback gorilla. Mishaya silverback broke off from Nshongi group around July 2010 with some females and thus Mishaya gorilla troop. Mishaya is known to be a true fighter a fact is that he grabbed several females from other non habituated gorilla troops in the sector and the total of mountain gorillas reached 12 with 3 infants.

Nshongi gorilla group

Nshongi is a formerly larger troop with 36 individuals. It habituated in September 2009 and derived its name from River Nshongi. Exceptionally, Nshongi features 4 silverbacks making it a unique troop on its own. It is also led by Nshongi who is not even the oldest silverback in the group and amazingly all the 3 silverbacks and 7 blackbacks stayed peacefully with one another without any attempt to fight for leadership. In July 2010, the gorilla family broke off and remained with 26 individuals while the recent splitter group formed Mishaya gorilla family. In 2013, the gorilla group further broke off and decreased up to 18 members with the new split creating the recent Bweza gorilla family with 10 individuals.

Kahungye gorilla group

This is a 13 member troop that features 3 silverbacks. The dominant silverback is Rumansi plus the other 2 old male gorillas called Rwigi and Ruhamuka. It was first tracked in 2011 and became a splitter family forming Busingye family. Originally, it comprised 27 members with 3 silverbacks.

Busingye gorilla group

Busingye troop is a splitter group of Kahungye family in 2012 when Busingye dominant silverback decided to start its own troop. The word Busingye denotes “peace” and this is one of the rarest traits for this over-ambitious silverback that is known for his legendary fights. He loves showing his power and each time he encounters a group he mercilessly takes at least a female to add to his troop. The group consisted of 9 members in 2014 3 infants, 2 adult females, and others.

Bweza group

Bweza family consists of 7 (seven) members and 1 silverback. This was a renowned largest troop but around July 2010, when silverback Mishaya left and established his own troop, including Bweza silverback, the number drastically reduced. In 2012, Bweza silverback stood independently and took with him 6 members from the Mishaya troop.

Nkuringo Area

Nkuringo gorilla group This is the only troop in Nkuringo sector and the word Nkuringo denotes “round hill” denoting to a hill it was discovered. The troop boasts of 19 members and it is ideally one of the fascinating troops that you should consider exploring while on safari in Bwindi National Park.

Bushaho and Bikingi troops are set mainly for gorilla habituation experience at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. For this adventure, permits are obtainable at $1500.

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