Gorilla Families in Bwindi National Park
If you’ve purchased a permit, you can visit gorilla families in four regions of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Buhoma, Rushaga, Ruhija, and Nkuringo.
Please note, despite group sizes being estimated, the numbers change regularly due to new members joining, leaving, newborn arrival, and death.
Gorilla Families in Buhoma
The Rushegura family was named after the location in which the two silverback brothers parted ways. The alpha of the group is called Mwirima, and he’s in his 20s.
They separated from Habinyanja in 2002, and in 2010 the family reached 19 members. They regularly cross over to Congo, but always come back.
They aren’t shy and are happy for people to visit and watch them get on with their daily activities. They are known for being the calmest family in Bwindi and sometimes wander into local villages.
Habinyanja was one of the first families to inhabit the Buhoma sector back in 1997. They were first visited by tourists in 1999.
The name comes from the local word ‘Nyanja’ which means “a place with water”, as they were first spotted near a swamp. They were originally led by the silverback Mugurisi, but he passed away from old age.
Mwirima and Rwansigazi shared power briefly but had many differences. Mwirima loved to stay close to home, while Rwansigazi wanted to travel. This led to the family splitting up in 2002, and power was given to Makara, who is now the dominant silverback.
In 2011, Mizano, a friendly blackback was found dead. It’s suspected he was killed by poachers whilst protecting his family.
This family has 18 gorillas.
Mubare & Katwe
Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla family in Uganda. It started with 18 members, but currently only has 5.
They were habituated in 1991, and 2 years later, they received visits from tourists. They are named after the Mubare hills.
Katwe is the newest family in Buhoma. It consists of 1 silverback, 2 blackbacks, 4 adult females, and 2 infants.
Gorilla Families in Rushaga
Mishaya & Bikyingi
Originally the Mishaya family was a part of the Nshongi. However, the leader Mishaya broke away, and 6 members decided to join him.
The leader is known for being a bit of a fighter, as he wants to gather females from other groups. They have been trained to be close to humans, so there’s no need to be fearful of an attack.
Bikyingi came together after members from Mishaya joined with wild gorillas. The group is named after the silverback, and he’s known for being very friendly.
The group consists of 21 gorillas.
Kahugye, Busingye & Rwigi
Kahugye derives from a hill, which was where the group of 13 gorillas were first spotted. They were opened for trekking in 2011, and are led by a silverback called Gwigi.
Busingye split from Kahugye in 2012, the group is named after the silverback. It consists of 3 infants, 5 blackbacks and 1 silverback.
Rangers thought they may reunite with Kahugye, but there have been no signs as yet.
Rwigi was formed after breaking away from Kahugye after the silverback, Rwigi didn’t get along with other silverbacks in the family, so he decided to make his own family, which consists of 6 gorillas.
Nshongi, Bweza & Mucunguzi
The Nshongi group was named after the River Nshongi, the name was then given to the leader of the group. It’s the largest gorilla group that has been habituated.
Originally, there were 36 members, this has since been reduced to 26 after a family disagreement.
The other group became the Mishaya. They were opened to trekking in 2009.
Bweza was formed after the silverback, Bweza, broke away with 10 members from Nshongi, after many fights. They opened to trekking in 2012.
Mucunguzi was formed after splitting from Bweza, due to a bad fight. It’s a dominantly female family and is named after the silverback. It consists of 8 gorillas.
Gorilla Families Ruhija
Bitukura & Oruzogo
This group was taken over by the youngest silverback, Ndahura, after the leader died at age 40. It was named after the river where the family was first sighted.
Habituation started in 2007 and opened to tourists in 2008. This was among the shortest habituation periods, taking only 15 months, instead of the normal 2 years.
The group consists of 14 gorillas and shares a close bond with Kyaguriro. They are known for being playful and peaceful.
Oruzogo is a large group, consisting of 22 gorillas, and Tibirikwata is the silverback in charge. In 2012, a female, Kakobe, gave birth to twins.
They are the second habituated family in Ruhija and are known for being playful and energetic.
Kyaguriro & Mukiza
Kyaguriro were first habituated in 1995. It consists of 15 gorillas. They faced a hard time when their leader, Rukina, was struck by lightning.
A silverback named Mukiza took over until he was approached by a silverback in Bitukura. They are not visited by tourists, as they are studied for research.
Mukiza was formed after a silverback called Kyaguriro broke off to make his own family, 9 gorillas followed.
Gorilla Families in Nkuringo
The Nkuringo Family
The Nkuringo family was named after the ‘rolling hills’ where they were first spotted. The alpha silverback was also named Nkuringo. They were first habituated because they kept wandering into people’s farms and destroying their food.
In 2008, Nkuringo passed away. Leadership was shared for a short period between two silverbacks, Rafiki and Safari. However, Safari eventually became the alpha.
They are one of the very few families gifted with twins, Muhoozi and Katungi. Sadly, Katungi died before turning 2 due to illness.
On June 1st 2020, silverback Rafiki was murdered. The family now consists of 18 gorillas.
Bushaho & Christmas
Bushaho was formed after a silverback called Bahati broke away from the Nkuringo group in 2012. It consists of 9 gorillas.
Christmas is the newest group in the Nkuringo sector.
It’s named after the dominant silverback, who was born on Christmas day.
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