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Gorilla Groups in Bwindi

How many Gorilla Groups are there in Bwindi?

Gorilla Groups in Bwindi, Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park holds most of the gorilla population in Uganda since the country has about 600 mountain gorillas. Bwindi has over the years seen the gorillas through the habituation process to ease trekkers’ encounters with the gorillas. There are 21 habituated gorilla Groups to look out for when on a gorilla safari in Bwindi, these gorillas can be trekked in the 4 different sectors of Bwindi which are; Buhoma, Rushaga, Nkuringo and Ruhija. Here are some of the families’ history, location and composition.


Mubare Gorilla Group

The Mubare family was the first Gorilla family to be habituated in Uganda and the process started in October 1991. The family’s name was derived from the nearby Mubare hills. The then dominant silverback Ruhondeza died and his grave can be visited during gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest. Presently, the family is comprised of 9 members including 1 silverback.


Habinyanja Gorilla Group

This gorilla family is comprised of 17 members with 1 silverback. It is found in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi although the family is quite nomadic. When its habituation started in 1997, the chief silverback was Mugurusi, his successors were Rwansigazi and Mwirima who split the family in two with Rwansigazi retaining the members that form the present day Habiyanja gorilla family. Mwirima then went on to form another family called Rushegura.


Rushegura Gorilla Group

The Rushegura gorilla family was formed under the leadership of Mwirima who was a silverback originally from the Habinyanja family. The family’s name is an imitation of the place from which the two brothers Rwansigazi and Mwirima split up, this family boasts of 20 members and 1 silverback.


Oruzogo Gorilla Group

This family has been open to trekkers since June 2011, visitors can catch a glimpse of this family between Buhoma and Ruhija. The family’s silverback is called Tibirikwata. This family has a total number of 16 members with 1 silverback.


Bitukura Gorilla Group

With 4 silverbacks in one family, the Bitukura Gorilla group tends to attract very many trekkers. Regardless of the fact that he comes second in rank to the eldest silverback, Ndahura is the family’s lead silverback. Karamuzi, Rukara and Rukumu are the 3 other silverbacks in the family. The rest of the members are 2 black backs, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and one infant called Kadogo. The family got its name from the river where the family was first seen.


Mukiza Gorilla Group

Initially, this group was known as Kyaguliro before it split after the death of the leading silverback Rukina, his unfortunate death inaugurated Mukiza as the new leader of the family. He was however not strong enough to put up a good fight when Rukare raided his family leading to the split in the Kyaguliro family. Kyaguliro A is now led by Mukiza and known by the same name. The habituation of this family started in 1995 and the gorillas were not exposed to any trekkers as they were used by Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology for research to better understand the greater mountain gorilla population.


Kyaguliro Gorilla Group

Kyaguliro Gorilla Group is located in the Ruhija sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. However,  Kyaguliro B broke away from Kyaguliro A after the death of the dominant silverback Rukina and it remained with the name Kyaguliro. Rukare put a fight to challenge Mukiza who had taken over from Rukina and managed to separate the family so that he can leave with some members. Both groups were mainly used by researchers but are currently open to visitors for trekking.


Nshongi Gorilla Group

The Nshongi group was opened to trekkers in July 2010. The family got its name from a nearby stream called “Omushongi Gwoboki” literally translated to mean “stream of honey.”  Nshongi is the largest Gorilla Group with 25 members led by 2 silverbacks.  The lead silverback of this family is Nshongi, the group can be found in Nshongi-Rushaga south of Bwindi.


Bweza Gorilla Group

The Bweza gorilla family was opened to visitors for trekking in December 2012. Originally, this family was part of the Nshongi group, the largest gorilla family under the leadership of Mishaya. Bweza the current dominant silverback consequently separated from the Mishaya gorilla family to form his own. His family is now made up of 9 members including 1 silverback and can be found in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi.


Mishaya Gorilla Group

Situated in Nshongi-Rushaga, Mishaya Gorilla group is made up of 12 members and 1 silverback. Mishaya was the lead silverback and the reason behind the family name. The Mishaya family shares a history with the Nshongi family from which it defected in 2010 under the leadership of Mishaya. Mwine has since the death of Mishaya in 2014 been the dominant silverback of this gorilla group.


 Kahungye Gorilla Group

The name Kahungye is derived from the family’s resting place, a hill found south of Bwindi in Rushaga sector. This family has been open to trekkers since October 2011. In the past, the family was comprised of about 27 members but after a split, it is currently made up of about 13 members with their lead silverback being Gwigi.


Busingye Gorilla Group

This gorilla family broke away from the Kahungye family in 2012 under the leadership of Busingye the family’s present day dominant silverback. At that time of breaking away, Busingye took with him 7 members but has since increased the number to 9 due to his latest conquests. This family can be found in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi.


Bushaho Gorilla Group

The Bushaho gorilla group boasts of 9 members being led by a Silverback known as Bahati. The number of members is bound to increase depending on the aggressiveness of the silverback, its ability to raid new members and also sire more offspring to grow the group. This group is found in the southern part of Bwindi in the Nkuringo sector. The family was habituated with the Bukingi gorilla family and it is now open for trekking.


Bukingi Gorilla Group

Bukingi Gorilla Group derived its name from the family’s home ranges. During the habituation process, the Bukingi Gorilla group was visited daily by veterinary doctors that worked closely with the rangers in monitoring the gorillas. This was done in order to eliminate any traces of sickness and to save the lives of the gorillas where need arose. The Bukingi gorilla group under the leadership of Bukingi, the silverback can now be found in the Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest.


Nkuringo Gorilla Group

“Nkuringo” was named after the family’s pioneer lead silverback, Nkuringo. The family’s habituation ended in 2004. And Safari is the current dominant silverback leading a family of 18 members with 2 silverbacks. This family is found in Nkuringo sector which is perhaps the most challenging gorilla tracking trail. After the trek is done, the sight of this family can be quite satisfying.


Katwe Gorilla Group

The Katwe gorilla group was added to the gorilla families in Buhoma sector in 2018. This was a welcome increasing the number of gorilla groups in Buhoma from 3 to 4 groups hence an increase in the available number of permits for tracking. This group took about 3 years to habituate the family and currently, the family is comprised of 10 members with 1 silverback, 3 black-backs, 4 adult females and 2 babies.


Kutu Gorilla Group

Kutu gorilla group is found in the Rushaga Sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. It currently has 8 members with the 1 dominant silverback. This group was previously available for gorilla habituation which only happens in the Rushaga sector, after many years of being visited, it was eventually ready to have guests visit it while on gorilla trekking tours.


Mucunguzi Gorilla Group

The Mucunguzi gorilla group is located in Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park with 8 members. The group derived its name from the head of the group, Mucunguzi who is the dominant silverback. Mucunguzi attempted to fight the dominant gorilla in Bweza group but was defeated. And later chased out of the group where it started living a solitary life. It then attacked another gorilla family where it left with some females and started the Mucunguzi gorilla group.


Binyindo Gorilla Group

The Binyindo gorilla group is located in Buhoma sector of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park consisting of 6 members with 1 silverback. This family of gorillas is the latest addition to gorilla families in the Buhoma sector of Bwindi. It was followed by the rangers and researchers for 3 years before being open for tourism.


Christmas Gorilla Group

Christmas gorilla group is located in the Nkuringo sector of Bwindi. It is ready for tracking for any guests visiting this sector. The group got its name from the dominant silverback named Christmas and it currently has 9 members with only 1 silverback. However for some reasons, trekkers are only able to see 6 members when they visit this family.


Posho Gorilla Group

The Posho Gorilla Group is still undergoing habituation and its leader is known as Magara.  Thus The family is comprised of 14 members and by all accounts according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, this family will be open for gorilla trekking experience in the near future.


Please Note: The number of these gorillas per group keeps changing because of certain reasons, at times, they increase and sometimes decrease.