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BWINDI GORILLA FAMILIES

Want To Learn About Gorilla Families In Uganda? Scroll Down...

THE BEST 21 GORILLA FAMILIES IN BWINDI & MGAHINGA PARK FOR TREKKING IN UGANDA

Which Gorilla Families Can Be Seen In Uganda?

The forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has 20 gorilla families that are available for visitors vacationing in Uganda to meet. There is only 1 family that thrives in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, just to the south near the Rwanda border of the Virunga Mountains. Below is some information about the families you may be able to see in the locales where they live.

Key Takeaways

  • According to scientists and researchers, as on February 2020, 21 habituated gorilla families live in Uganda
  • 20 mountain gorilla families living within Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in 4 different areas
  • Only 1 family living in the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park that lies on the Virunga Mountains, south of Bwindi
Which Gorilla Families Can Be Seen In Uganda

A. Gorilla Families In The Buhoma Sector - Bwindi

Should you choose to go on a gorilla adventure holiday in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you’ll learn that there are five groups that you might encounter: the Mubare, Habinyanja, Rushegura, Katwe and Binyido families. Most people who would prefer a shorter and less strenuous trek while touring Bwindi choose this area, since most of the gorilla families are closer and more readily tracked.

1. Mubare Gorilla Family (6 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • The first family targeted for the habituation process in 1991
  • Originally lead by the silverback Ruhondeza followed by Kanyonyi, now headed by Maraya
  • Known for infanticide with the dominant silverback killing off the infants when taking over the family
The Mubare group has 6 members, including 1 dominant silverback named Maraya, 3 adult females, and 2 infants. As you will learn on your trek to visit this group, the family is the oldest to be documented by researchers in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and first came under the habituation process in 1991. At the time, the group’s leader was Ruhondeza, who was known to be intolerant of other males and notorious for killing off the younger ones. Ruhondeza died a natural death on June 26, 2012, and Kanyonyi, the lone surviving male, took over as the head of the family. Sometime in November 2017, scientists noted that a solo silverback male, Maraya had taken over the leadership of the group after getting into a violent fight with Kanyonyi in which the latter was killed. The Mubare leadership is known to practice infanticide to eliminate competition as they age.

2. Habinyanja Gorilla Family (16 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Typically found wandering the Nyamishamba ridges lead by the alpha silverback, Makara
  • Known for being particularly adventurous and roaming over a vast area
  • Habituation process started in 1996
The silverback dubbed Makara is the leader of the Habinyanja group, which is typically found in the Nyamishamba area within the Buhoma sector. This group is notable for being particularly adventurous; the family often explores new locations far from their familiar grounds. Researchers began the habituation process for this group in 1996. About 6 years later, the family split into 2 subgroups, when the Rushegura group was formed. At present, the Habinyanja group comprises 1 silverback, 4 blackbacks, 4 sub-adult (teenage) males, 4 adult females, 2 juveniles and 1 infant.

3. Rushegura Gorilla Family (15 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Takes its name from Ebishegura, a species of trees commonly found in the family’s favorite wandering grounds
  • Known to go exploring the properties around lodges and community gardens
  • Group first formed in February 2002
Primate biologists named the Rushegura group after Ebishegura, a species of trees common in the area where this group was first formed in February 2002. This gorilla family is sometimes spotted looking for food near Buhoma, the headquarters of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. They are also known to go exploring locales around the properties of the lodges and community gardens in the area that happen to be close to their home grounds. This gorilla family is headed by the silverback Kabukojo, who leads 3 blackbacks, 6 adult females, 1 sub-adult, 3 juvenile males, and 1 infant.

4. Katwe Gorilla Family (7 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Named after the hillside location where their habituation was first initiated in January 2018
  • Formed by some of the members breaking away from the Mubare group after the death of Kanyonyi
  • Comprises of a total of 7 members including 2 adults females and 2 sub-adults
This gorilla family takes its name from the hillsides where researchers initially started with their habituation process. The Katwe group currently has 7 members including 1 Silverback, 2 blackbacks, 2 mature females, and 2 sub-adults. The group has an interesting history and many of its members were originally a part of the Mubare group, the oldest studied family in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Park. Two of the adult females of Mubare i.e. Kashundwe and Malaika are now a part of the fusion group which is headed by the silverback, Mahaane. Researchers have been closely following this family since January 2018 when it was first formed.

5. Binyido Gorilla Family (6 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Group studied for 3 years before it was added to the list of gorilla families in the park
  • Comprises of a total of 5 additional members and 1 dominant silverback
  • Open for visits from tourists wishing to spend time with gorillas in their natural habitat
Researchers followed and studied this group for three years before finally opening it for tourism. The Binyido group has a total of 6 members including 1 dominant silverback. It was added in 2019 to the list of gorilla families in the Buhoma sector.
Gorilla Families In The Buhoma Sector - Bwindi

B. Gorilla Families In The Rushaga Sector - Bwindi

6. Shongi Gorilla Family (8 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Habituation process in progress since 2006
  • Split into two distinct groups, Mishaya and Bweza in 2013
  • Dispersal of Mishaya group after 2014 after which members joined Bikingi and Bweza families
Primate researchers in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park began their study and habituation of this gorilla family in 2006 and have been documenting the evolution of the Shongi group ever since. Originally, the family had 34 members, with the silverback Mishaya as the head. The group had several males and eventually, in 2010 & 2012, their rivalry led to the formation of two other distinct groups: the Mishaya and Bweza families. On February 3, 2014, the silverback Mishaya, head of the breakaway group, died of an intestinal blockage, leaving the group leaderless. Because of the lack of a dominant male, many of the remaining members went on to join the Bikingi and Bweza groups. As you will learn on your safari vacation in Uganda, the Shongi group now has 1 silverback named Bweza, 1 blackback, 3 females, 1 sub-adult, and 2 infants.

7. Kahungye Gorilla Family (19 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Headed by the silverback, Ruziika
  • Habituation process started in 2008 when the family comprised of 29 members
  • Splintered in 2012 when the Busingye group broke away
The Kahungye family is led by the adult silverback named Ruziika and is often found wandering in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. When the habituation process for this group was first started in 2008, the family had 29 members, including 3 silverbacks. In March 2012, the Busingye group broke away. Today, aside from Ruzika, the family has 1 other silverback, 3 blackbacks, 7 adult females, 2 sub-adult females, 2 juveniles, and 3 infants.

8. Bweza Gorilla Family (11 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Headed by the silverback, Kakono
  • Prefers to remain in locations closer to human communities
  • Often sighted by vacationers on village walks or around accommodations
Originally habituated as part of the Shongi family in 2013, the Bweza group now roams Bwindi Impenetrable National Park under the leadership of the silverback Kakono. Since the group likes to look for food closer to the local community farms, rather than inner forest areas, you might see them around your tour holiday accommodation or on village walks. Aside from Kakono, the family also has 2 other silverbacks, 4 adult females, 1 juvenile, and 3 infant males.

9. Busingye Gorilla Family (12 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Roaming the slopes of the Rushaga sector preferring more remote locations
  • Originally part of the Kahungye group which began habituation in 2008
  • Breakaway group currently headed by the alpha male, Busingye
Wandering the slopes of the Rushaga sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the Busingye group, headed by a dominant silverback by the name of Busingye. This family was originally habituated as a part of the larger Kahungye group in 2008, but formed a new group in 2012. Busingye seems to prefer traveling in hidden areas of the deeper forests and keeps his family away from the boundaries of the park. Currently, other members of the group include 5 adult females, 1 sub-adult blackback male, 3 juveniles, and 2 infants.

10. Bikingi Gorilla Family (14 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Habituation process started in the year 2012 and still under progress
  • Headed by the silverback, Bikingi
  • Now includes several members of the Mishaya group and non-habituated individuals
Spending time with the Bikingi family is an eye-opening experience, since the group is still undergoing the habituation process that first began in 2012. The dominant silverback of this family is unknown after the death of its former leaders, Mishaya and Bikingi who hosted a family of 24 members. Several members of this family joined the Kahungye family after the death of Bikingi silverback in June 2018, and it now includes some non-habituated individuals. Currently there are 14 members i.e. 2 silverbacks, 4 females, 1 blackback, 3 juveniles, and 4 infants. Gorilla researchers in Bwindi Park are keeping a close watch on the members.

11. Mishaya Gorilla Family (10 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Comprises mainly of members who have broken away from the Shongi group at different times
  • Originally formed by the silverback Mishaya who died in February 2014 after an intestinal blockage
  • Some of the remaining members joined the Bweza and Bikingi groups because of the absence of a strong leader
The Mishaya family was first formed after the splitting of the Shongi group in July 2010. The silverback, Mishaya remained the leader of the group until February 2014, when Mishaya died because of a blockage in his intestinal system. Without a strong leader, the remaining members dispersed and joined other families in the Rushaga region of the Bwindi Impenetrable Park. Some of the gorillas joined the Bweza and Bikingi groups, but the remaining could not be tracked down for a while.

In May 2018, scientists uncovered that they were now a part of the group led by Tinfayo. The silverback had also been a member of the Shongi group until 2012 when he split away along with a female, Shida, and her infant, Rotary. At present, Tinfayo is the leader of the Mishaya group that also has 1 blackback, 4 mature females, 1 sub-adult female, and 3 infants. Primate researchers in Uganda have been closely following the movements of the group and its behavior.

12. Kutu Gorilla Family (8 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Originally designated by researchers for visitors desiring to understand how the habituation process is carried out
  • Now open for visits from wildlife enthusiasts undertaking the gorilla tracking experience
  • The family comprises of a total of 8 members including 1 dominant silverback who leads the group
The Kutu gorilla family has a total of 8 members including 1 dominant silverback male who leads the family. Researchers made this family available for tourists to understand how the habituation process is carried out. After several years of observation and studying, the group is now ready to receive human visitors who have signed up for the gorilla tracking experience.

13. Mucunguzi Gorilla Family (8 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Group named Mucunguzi after the dominant silverback who leads the family
  • Formerly Mucunguzi was a part of the Bweza group and later ousted
  • Mucunguzi formed a new family after fighting the head of the Bikingi group and taking away some of the females
Researchers have named this gorilla family Mucunguzi after the dominant silverback that is currently leading the family. Formerly, Mucunguzi was a young gorilla in the Bweza group, but started living a solitary life after being ousted from the family. Mucunguzi later attacked the Bikingi group and after fighting the leader, stole some of the females to start his own group. At present, this group has a total of 8 members, most of whom are females.
Gorilla Families In The Rushaga Sector - Bwindi

C. Gorilla Families In The Ruhija Sector - Bwindi

14. Bitukura Gorilla Family (11 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • An unusual group with the adult males being extremely tolerant of each other
  • Headed by the silverback, Mugisha who took over leadership in 2016
  • Often spotted roaming the locations close to the forest boundaries at Ruhija
The Bitukura gorilla family is unique in the respect that the adult males are extremely tolerant of each other. This family’s history has unusual forbearance for having several male adults, upto five. Aside from the dominant silverback Mugisha, the group has 1 other silverback, 4 adult females, 1 blackback, 1 juvenile male, 1 sub-adult male, and 2 infants. Mugisha took over as head of the group after Ndahura died on December 18, 2016, following a fall from a tree (at 28, he was the park’s oldest gorilla at the time). Should you choose to travel in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you might see this family roaming close to the boundaries of the forest around the Ruhija tourism base.

15. Oruzogo Gorilla Family (17 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Unique family because of its unusual preference for the Alchornea hitela plant, also called Oruzogo
  • Habituation process underway since 2008
  • Headed by the alpha silverback, Bakwate
Scientists named this gorilla family Oruzogo after they observed the primates favoring and mainly feeding on the Alchornea hitela plant, which the local people call Oruzogo. Given that mountain gorillas typically don’t eat this plant, this feature makes the family unique. The habituation process of this group was initiated in 2008, and the group currently comprises 2 silverbacks in addition to the dominant Bakwate, 2 blackbacks, 5 adult females, 3 sub-adult males, 2 juveniles and 2 infants.If you choose to safari vacation in the Ruhija sector of the Bwindi Impenetrable Park, you might just meet this family.

16. Kyaguliro Gorilla Family (8 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Under habituation since the year 1995 and studied by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Split into two groups in 2016, Kyaguliro A (Rukara) and Kyaguliro B (Mukiza)
  • Rukawa family preferring the denser regions of the forest and rarely spotted on the peripheries
Habituation of the Kyaguliro family first began in 1995, and this group has been studied for years by researchers from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology. These primate scientists visit the family every day and are focused on understanding their behaviors. Originally, the family was headed by the dominant silverback Zeus who was overpowered by Rukina in 2014. In 2015, Rukina died from a lightning strike in which he was electrocuted.

The next silverback to take over leadership was Mukiza, who was still quite inexperienced. After an ambush by silverback Rukara from the Bitukura group, the family split into two subgroups: the Kyaguliro A (Rukara) and Kyaguliro B (Mukiza). Since the break, which happened in May 2016, the Kyaguliro family wanders in the denser forest regions and seems to avoid the edges of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. As you will find on your gorilla trekking forest trip in Uganda, the 8 member family now comprises 1 silverback, 2 blackbacks, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adults, and 1 infant.

17. Mukiza Gorilla Family (13 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • A split-off group formed from the Kyaguliro family in 2016
  • Also studied by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Headed by the silverback Mukiza
Traveling around the Ruhija sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the Mukiza group, or the Kyaguliro B family, as it is also called. This gorilla family is headed by the silverback Mukiza and became a distinct group in May 2016 after the splitting of the larger Kyaguliro family. Like the Rukara family, this group has also been a focus for the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology for daily visits, research, and studies into their behaviors and movements. Aside from the main silverback, the family also has 6 adult females, 1 sub-adult male, 2 juvenile females, and 3 infants.
Gorilla Families In The Ruhija Sector - Bwindi

D. Gorilla Families In The Nkuringo Sector - Bwindi

18. Nkuringo Gorilla Family (15 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Headed by the silverback, Rafiki and under habituation since 1997
  • First mountain gorilla family, which was habituated in the Nkuringo sector
  • Often spotted roaming the outlying zones of the forest because of which humans were moved into the buffer zone of the park
As you will learn on your primate safari holiday, the Nkuringo gorilla family is one of two groups that thrive in the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Headed by the dominant silverback, Rafiki, this group was the first in the southern section of the park to be habituated, in 1997. Originally, the family had 17 members, but over the years 5 of those individuals have moved on to join other groups, leaving just 15 members at present. They include 1 silverback, 3 blackbacks, 8 adult females, 2 juvenile males, and 1 infant.

On your tour, you will learn that this family has the distinction of having the first recorded twin birth in the reserve, noted in December 2004. They are often seen foraging for food in the outlying zones of the park, close to 98% of the time. For this reason, authorities moved local human inhabitants in the buffer zone of Bwindi further away, to minimize their contact with the gorilla families and the possibility of transmitting human diseases to these rare primates. These steps were taken after the Nkuringo family contracted scabies.

19. Bushaho Gorilla Family (12 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Originally part of the Nkuringo family
  • Headed by Bahati since 2012
  • Named for the Bushaho region where they are often spotted foraging for food
Currently, the Bushaho group is led by the silverback Bahati. This family was previously a part of the Nkuringo group and were named Bushaho after the specific locale in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where they spend most of their time foraging for food. Your gorilla tour guide will inform you that, at present, this cohort has 1 silverback 1 blackback, 4 adult females, 2 sub-adult females, and 4 infants.

20. Christmas Gorilla Family (9 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Third gorilla family in the Nkuringo sector to open for tourism visits
  • Headed by a dominant silverback named Christmas
  • Has a total of 9 members including 1 blackback, 3 females, and 1 infant
Christmas gorilla family is often found wandering the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Park and is now open for adventure tourists wishing to sign up for gorilla trekking expeditions in the forests of Uganda. As with other families, scientists have named the group, Christmas which is the dominant silverback caring for the troupe. Although there are a total of 9 members in this group, researchers are able to spot only 6 of them regularly. You will likely see 1 blackback, 3 females, and 1 baby aside from the silverback head, Christmas.
Gorilla Families In The Nkuringo Sector - Bwindi

E. Gorilla Families In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

21. Nyakagezi Gorilla Family (8 Members)

Key Takeaways

  • Only habituated gorilla family to live in the park, the habituation process started in 1991 and ended in 1994
  • Known for their very adventurous nature and previously tracked across Virunga Mountain in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda.
  • Unusual family with several males living together peacefully
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has just one habituated family, the Nyakagezi group, which is headed by the dominant silverback, Mark, and a second silverback, Ndugutse. Researchers began the habituation process for this group in 1991 and completed it in 1994, after which they declared the family open for tourism. Currently, the group has 3 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 1 juvenile male, and 2 infants. They are known for their adventurous nature and, in years past, were tracked roaming the shared Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. In recent years, they seem to have settled down in Mgahinga. Researchers have also noted that the various males in the group seem to cohabit peacefully.
Gorilla Families In Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

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GUIDE ON BWINDI PARK
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GUIDE ON BWINDI PARK

Standing on the edge of the Albertine Rift Valley at a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bwindi is known for the amazing biodiversity. The highlight of your safari in Bwindi Park is undoubtedly the gorilla-viewing experience.

WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BWINDI
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WHERE & BEST PLACES TO STAY IN BWINDI

Bwindi has varied accommodations, from the forest luxuries of Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge and Bwindi Lodge. The deluxe options are Buhoma Lodge and Mahogany Springs.

SAFARI & TOUR IN BWINDI
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SAFARI & TOUR IN BWINDI

The primary activity at Bwindi Park is gorilla trekking including the habituation experience. Other tours are birdwatching excursions, forest waterfall hikes, Buhoma mountain biking, Batwa cultural encounters etc.

BEST TIME TO VISIT BWINDI
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BEST TIME TO VISIT BWINDI

Given that the main focus of your safari in Uganda is likely to be the mountain gorillas, the best time to visit Bwindi is in the long dry season, which begins in June and continues through July and August.

AFRICANMECCA REVIEWS

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EAST AFRICA SAFARI BOOKING TRIP IDEA FOR BWINDI IN UGANDA

When visiting Bwindi Park for your gorilla safari trek, we recommend combining it with Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, and Kibale (chimpanzee safari) alongside your city tour visits of Kampala and Entebbe.

You may optionally extend out to other wilderness areas such as Mgahinga to track down golden monkeys and gorillas in the same park, Jinja for whitewater rafting on the Nile River, and Semliki, Lake Mburo or Kidepo for an offbeat wildlife tour.

You can end your vacation on the beach at Lake Victoria or even extending out to the exotic spice island of Zanzibar or Lamu, or even Mombasa.

Best Safari Planning Ideas & Trip Experiences For Uganda

Below are guide references on how to plan each of the below safari experience in Uganda. Alternatively, go to the summary section for a quick overview of each trip planning experience.

1. How To Plan Uganda Safari Trips? (Summary)

2. Wildlife Safari Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

3. Private & Tailor-Made Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

4. Honeymoon Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

5. Family Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

6. Luxury Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

7. Photo Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

8. Cultural Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

9. Gorilla, Chimpanzee & Primate Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

10. Hike, Trek & Bush Walk Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

11. Birding Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

12. Wedding Safaris Trip Planning Guide For Uganda

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