Gorilla families in Rwanda: Volcanoes National Park has ten Gorilla groups. The park has approximately 380 mountain gorillas in total. The volcanoes national park is part of the larger Virunga mountain ranges that extend all the way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Virunga Mountains are home to about 500 mountain gorillas. The other half live in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla parks.
Mountain gorillas live in family groups led by a dominant silverback. During gorilla tours, gorilla families are assigned based on their preferences, accommodations, and overall level of fitness. Some Gorilla groups live deep in the forest, necessitating longer tracking hours.
Rwanda is home to ten habituated Gorilla groups. In Rwanda, gorilla families are divided into two groups: those for research and those open to tourists. Shida and Beetsme are research groups with the greatest number of members.
Only eight people can visit each gorilla group in a day, as is done with Uganda’s gorilla families. This means that only 80 Gorilla permits are available for reservation on any given day. Some of these groups must be located through difficult and sometimes steep terrain. Every day, Gorilla groups in Rwanda move to a new location to build new nests for the night. Every group has its own set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to tracking. There are paid porters available if you are unsure about your overall fitness.
Families Of Habituated Gorillas In Rwanda
ü Rwanda’s ten habituated Gorilla groups are as follows:
ü Susa Gorilla Organization (Susa A Family)
ü Gorilla Group Karisimbi (Susa-B)
ü Sabyinyo Gorilla Family
ü Amahoro Gorilla Family
ü Group of Umubano Gorillas
ü Group of Agashya Gorillas
ü Group of Kwitonda Gorillas
ü Hirwa Gorilla Organization
ü Family of Bwenge
ü Gorilla Family Ugenda
ü Rwanda’s best gorilla families for trekking
ü Susa A Family (Susa Gorilla Group):
The Susa gorilla group, made famous by zoologist Dian Fossey and her research activities, is one of the most popular with visitors. The group now has 28 members, including three silverbacks. The name “Susa” was derived from the nearby Susa river in Kinyarwanda. The gorilla group had 42 members before splitting into two due to a feud. This gorilla family prefers to live high in the mountains, making tracking them the most difficult – sometimes taking an entire day. Park rangers always know where they are, but if they wander too far away, tourists may be denied access. Byishimo and Impano, the famous playful young twins, keep this gorilla group active and exciting to watch. Then there’s Poppy, one of the most accustomed Mountain Gorillas. If you are adventurous and physically fit, this is the gorilla family for you.
Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B):
This gorilla group has 15 members and is usually found on the slopes of the Karisimbi volcano. This is the gorilla family that split from Susa (Susa-A) after a long feud and hence the name Susa-B or more commonly Karisimbi. Tracking this gorilla group is difficult and if they wander too far on a particular day, gorilla tracking activities can be cancelled. The trackers usually go ahead of the visitors to confirm the location of the gorilla family and then relay this information to colleagues leading the tourists. If you are in great shape and can endure the long trek up the Karisimbi volcano slopes, get ready to be rewarded with beautiful scenery that make the whole experience worth every penny.
Sabyinyo Gorilla Group: This is a small group of about eight Mountain Gorillas led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. Guhonda, at 220kgs, is possibly the park’s largest silverback. The Sabyinyo “Old Man’s Teeth” Volcano, which they live around, inspired the group’s name. Guhonda has kept his family together by keeping his rival silverback Ryango out of the group. Because they stay near the Volcanoes National Park edge, the group of playful juveniles is easy to spot.
Ubumbwe leads the Amahoro gorilla family, which consists of 17 members. The name of the group means “peaceful,” and Ubumbwe, the dominant silverback, has always exemplified this trait while leading the group. Even after losing a few group members to Charles, another silverback who was previously with the group, Ubumbwe remains calm and peaceful. Charles used Ubumbwe’s calmness to kidnap some females and form the Umubano group. The Amahoro gorilla family lives on Mount Visoke’s slopes. Despite the fact that reaching the group requires climbing a steep slope, visitors enjoy this group because of its juveniles, predictability, and calmness.
Umubano Gorilla Group:
Umubano translates as “living together.” The Umubano tribe was once part of the Amahoro clan until Charles, the leader, rebelled against Ubumbwe, the Amahoro’s dominant silverback. As he grew older, he began to challenge the composed Amahoro group leader. After a constant clash with Ubumbwe, Charles decided to flee with some Amahoro family females to start his own. The gorilla family consists of 11 individuals with 6 children and lives in the same area as the Amahoro family. Many tourists visit this gorilla group because of the ease with which they can be reached and the group’s distinct personality.
Agashya Gorilla Group:
Volcanoes National Park Gorilla groups This group was known as “Group 13,” and it was led by Nyakarima before Agashya challenged him to a deadly fight, after which he fled up the volcano with the entire family. This was the first complete takeover observed by gorilla researchers. Agashya continued to expand his family by stealing members from other groups and taking on loners after moving as far away from Nyakarima as possible. The group departs near the Sabyinyo Mountain Gorillas. Agashya gathers all members and flees to his favorite safety spot on top of the volcano whenever he senses trouble for the group. As a result, tracking the gorilla group can be difficult. The group has now expanded from 13 to approximately 25 members.
Kwitonda Gorilla Group:
With 18 members, including two silverbacks, this is a difficult group to track. This group, led by Kwitonda (Kinyarwanda for “humble one”), descended from Gorilla groups in Congo. They live on the slopes of Mount Muhabura, but they move in a wide geographical area, making tracking difficult but exciting.
Hirwa Gorilla Group:
Hirwa Gorilla Group: This is a relatively new group formed when members of Group 13 and the Sabyinyo family joined forces to form their own group. They can be found on the slopes of Mount Sabyinyo, where they are led by a dominant and protective silverback. The Hirwa name means “lucky one,” as the group was fortunate to have more people join them voluntarily. This unusual group formation was observed in 2006 and now includes twins. On some days, it may be difficult to locate this group.
Bwenge Family Group:
Rwandan habituated Gorilla groups and families Bwenge translates as “wisdom.” Members of the gorilla group appeared in the drama “Gorillas in the Mist.” Bwenge, the dominant silverback, founded the group in 2007 after leaving his birth group and being joined by female members from other families. The family consists of 11 people, but getting to them is difficult because they live on the slopes of Karisoke Volcano, up a steep and sometimes muddy hill.
Ugenda Gorilla Family:
The Ugenda tribe has 11 members, including two silverbacks, and lives in the Karisimbi area. Ugenda means “being on the move” in Kinyarwanda and was used to describe the group’s roving nature. Tracking them can be difficult on some days due to their wandering nature.