About Uganda Gorilla Families
Uganda has 11 gorilla groups or families habituated for trekking while one is for research. Gorilla families in Uganda include, Rushegura, Habinyanja, Mubare, Nkuringo, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Mishaya, Nshongi, Kahungye, and recently the new groups called Busingye and Bweza. Kyaguriro gorilla group located in Ruhija is for research. Mountain gorilla habituation take about 2-3 years and below are some of the gorilla families in Bwindi
Family size: 9 members including and one silverback
Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. It was found in the Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest, and was fully habituated in 1993. The group started with 12 family members, led by the dominant silverback Ruhondeza. In a few years the group grew to 18 individuals. Unfortunately, due to fights with wild gorilla groups and loss of members
Family size: 15 members including 2 silverbacks
The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from “Nyanja” which is the local word for ‘body of water’. It refers to the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was first sighted. Habinyanja is a fascinating family with a lot of drama and commotion. This is caused by the power struggles between the dominant silverbacks and fights for the family leadership. The adult females are led by the shrewd alpha female called Kisho
Family size: 18 members including and no silverback
The Rushegura gorilla family was brought together in 2002, after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away. They started with 12 individuals including 5 females. This “Habinyanya 2 group” quickly received a new name, that derives from “Ebishegura” – a tree specie that was abundant in the home area of the new family. The Rushegura group is a calm family. In the past they used to cross the border to neighboring DRC every now and than but always returned to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They are usually not far from Buhoma Village and sometimes even wander through the gardens of the lodges
Family size: 12 members including 4 silverbacks
The Bitukura group was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation that started in July 2007 was a relatively easy process as the gorillas were already frequently encountered by the UWA rangers. Although the habituation process normally takes a minimum of two years, this group could already be visited by tourists within 15 months after the start. Bitukura is a peaceful family including 4 silverbacks and some playful juveniles. They share a close bond and often have ‘group meetings’ or get-togethers<
Family size: 19 members including 2 silverbacks
The Nkuringo group was named after the Rukiga word for “round hill” and was launched in 2004. One of the most important reasons for their habituation were the problems they created for the local communities by destroying crops and other products. By opening up the gorilla family for visitors, the community could directly benefit from tourism and it formed a protection for the gorillas as well. The family was led by the silverback Nkuringo who died in 2008, leaving behind 2 silverbacks in the group. In November 2008, the Nkuringo family expanded thanks to the special birth of a twin – Katungi and Muhozi – though Katungi unfortunately died at the age of 1.5 years. Please note that gorilla families in Uganda keep changing as more members are born, other die and other gorilla families in Uganda seperate to produce more famalies.
Family size: 36 members including 5 silverbacks
Nshongi is the largest group ever habituated and was officially launched in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi, close to the place where the gorilla family was first seen. Although most gorilla families in Uganda usually consist of 25 members with one or two silverbacks, this family is a rare excemption. Another remarkable fact is that the group is led by Nshongi, who is not even the oldest silverback in the family.
Family size: 7 members including 1 silverbacks
Busingye gorilla group is the newest family to break away from Kahungye which was opened for trekking in 2011. It was suspected that at one time Kahungye would split as it had three silver backs and a bigger group.