Gorilla Families in Uganda

Gorilla Families in Uganda: Habituated Mountain Gorilla Groups in Bwindi and Mgahinga for Trekking

Gorilla Families in Uganda

Gorilla Families in Uganda are about 21 in number habituated for trekking by visitors. These gorilla groups are found in the four gorilla trekking sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a thick forest where mountain gorillas in Uganda live. Dozens of tourists do visit these groups everyday under a commonly known term, Gorilla Trekking. Each gorilla family in Uganda is allocated 8 gorilla permits, a set number aimed at avoiding high human presence near the gorillas.  Uganda gorilla permits are booked with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a sole government body in charge of issuing them for visitors. UWA is also responsible for management, conservation and protection of all national parks, wildlife reserves and protected areas in Uganda.

How many gorilla groups are there in Uganda?

There are a total of 20 habituated mountain gorilla families found in Uganda each headed by a dominant silverback.  These groups have grown in numbers over time through gorillas splitting to form new families. Other families have been identified and habituated by UWA as per the needs of each particular sector.

How many gorilla families are in Bwindi?

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park gorilla population is divided into over 19 habituated gorilla families and can be accessed by tourists for trekking.

How many gorilla permits are available in Uganda?

There are 160 gorilla permits available in Uganda out of which 19 gorilla groups with 152 permits are available in Bwindi Impenetrable. Mgahinga Gorilla National Parks has 8 gorilla permits only with its single Nyakagezi gorilla family.

Habituated Gorilla Families in Buhoma Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Buhoma sector in the north of Bwindi forest has five habituated Gorilla groups for trekking and these include Mubare Gorilla Family, Habinyanja Gorilla family, Rushegura Gorilla Family, Muyambi Gorilla Family and Katwe Gorilla group.

Mubare Group 

This Mubare group (also called the M-Group) was the pioneer group to in fact to be habituated for tracking by visitors. The habituation programme began in 1991 and the group got first visitors for trekking in 1993. The group was named Mubare after the spectacular Mubare Hills in which it was discovered.

Habinyanja Group

This Group was habituated in 1997 for tracking and received tourists in 1999. At the beginning, it was a huge group, but the family split from and another group, Rushegura was formed. These two groups co-exist peacefully and at times interconnect with each other with ease.

Rushegura Gorilla Group 

Rushegura Group was habituated in 2000 for tracking and it got tourists in 2002.  It is a massive group found in the Buhoma area, part of Bwindi Forest.

Muyambi Gorilla Family

Muyambi gorilla group is a family whose members once belonged to Mubare gorilla family which was the first gorilla family to be trekked in Bwindi. The family laucnhed in 2019 consists of 7 members with the dominant leader being Muyambi, the silverback.

Katwe Gorilla Family

Katwe gorilla family is among the several gorilla groups in Buhoma region of Bwindi forest. The group has a total of 9 members including 1 silverback as a head

Gorilla Families in Ruhija Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest 

Ruhija sector has 4 Gorilla families which include Bitukura, Oruzogo and Kyaguriro and Mukiza gorilla family. With its four groups of gorillas, Ruhija has 32 permits with each group having 8 gorilla permits.

Bitukura Group

Bitukura Gorilla family is among of the lately created groups and wanders the green forest in Ruhija area in the eastern side of the park found in the southwestern Uganda.

Kyaguliro Gorilla Family

Kyaguliro Gorilla group is a gorilla group located in Ruhija Sector found in the eastern side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, south western Uganda. This group is known for spending much of its time inside the forest and rarely gets close to the edges of the forest. The group is currently composed several individuals including a heading Silverback, Black backs and an infant.

Oruzogo Gorilla Group

This gorilla family can be trekked from Ruhija area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It is a huge group with 22 gorilla members. This Oruzogo group is a favorite of tourists because the lively dynamism displayed by the youngsters and babies in the family who keep visitors amused during their stay.

Mukiza Gorilla Family

Mukiza gorilla family is a gorilla group found in Ruhija Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The family was formed in May 2016 after the split of the main Kyaguliro group. Mukiza group is open to trekking as well as being dedicated for gorilla research by Manx Planc (MPI) for Evolutionary Anthropology. With the birth of two more babies in 2021, the group is now composed of 15 individuals including 1 Silverback, 7 Adult females, 1 Sub-adult, 1 Juvenile and 5 Infants.

Gorilla Groups in Rushaga Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Rushaga region is found in the southern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Rushaga sector together with with Nkuringo Region are located in Kisoro District. This sector characterized by high hills and because of this fact, different habituated gorilla families have kept on dividing to take up various hills in the area. The hilly topography is also liked by tourists who trek Rushaga gorillas and tend to enjoy the great scenic views. On some clear days, visitors can see the Virunga ranges in Rwanda and Uganda that include Mgahinga, Muhavura, Sabinyo, Karusimbi, and Bisoke among others. Lake Mutanda one of the only two lava damned lakes in Uganda being near Rushaga, facilitates a canoe ride before or after gorilla trekking in this sector. The gorilla families which include Nshongi, Mishaya, Busingye, Kahungye and Bweza gorilla group.

Mishaya Gorilla Group

Following a family disagreement, Mishaya Gorilla family fragmented from the then largest Gorilla Group in Bwindi, Nshongi Gorilla Family. The two groups still live in the Rushaga region in the South of Bwindi Forest. The initial birth of Mishaya group happened in July 2010 when Nshongi group split into two with a splinter section headed by Silverback Mishaya. Some of the group members include  Silverback Mishaya (Deceased), Bukunzi and Mwiza the adult females, Rutaro and Mize the juveniles, Mwiza has 2 babies and Bukunzi has 1 baby plus more other 2 unknown babies. At present, the family is led by Silverback Mwine.

Nshongi Gorilla Group

At present, Nshongi is the biggest habituated gorilla family in Bwindi with 25 individual members. At start of the group for trekking by visitors after a thorough Habituation, it had 25. Later on, 10 members left to form a new family called Mishaya Group. Nshongi derives its name from Nshongi river where they were first spotted by rangers in Bwindi forest.

Busingye Gorilla Family

Busingye gorilla group was named after its Silverback leader “Busingye”. The is fondly known for foraging within the inner forest with very rare access to the park boundaries. Busingye has 9 individuals including 1 Silverback, 1 Black back, 3 Adult females, 2 Juveniles and 3 Infants. Busingye split from Kahungye gorilla family to become an independent gorilla unit for trekking.

Kahungye Gorilla Family

Kahungye group is found in Rushaga sector of Bwindi forest. The group was opened up in 2011 after a thorough habituation process. The Name Kahungye is derived from a hill in Rushaga area where the mountain gorillas were learnt of. Kahungye group is headed by the dominant Silverback Ruziika. The habituation of this group started in 2008 with about 29 individuals including 3 adult males (Silverbacks – Riziika, Busingye and Rwiigi) who always had frequent male rivalry.

Bweza Gorilla Group

The Bweza Gorilla Family is in the Rushaga area.  The group has 7 adult members and two children. The group is a breakaway faction from the Nshongi Family due to too many disputes in the family.

Gorilla Groups in Nkuringo Sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park 

Nkuringo sector (south of the park) is one of the four sections of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where gorilla trekking in Uganda takes place. Nkuringo region has 4 habituated gorilla families open for trekking. One  group, Posho gorilla family is undergoing the habituation process by UWA and would later be availed exclusively for Gorilla Habituation Experience. Active gorilla units in this southern sector include Nkuringo Gorilla Group, Bikyingi Gorilla Family, Bushaho Gorilla Family, Christmas Gorilla Group.

Nkuringo Gorilla Family

This group is among of the most puzzling treks in Uganda. The Group has 19 individuals and is a favorite to people who have pursued over one gorilla family.

Bushaho Gorilla Family

Made up of 9 members, Bushaho gorilla family group is under the leadership of Bahati silverback. This gorilla family group’s found in the Nkuringo sector.

Christmas Gorilla Group

The Christmas gorilla family has 9 individual gorilla members and the group is headed by Christmas, the dominant silverback.

Nyakagezi Gorilla Family in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park

The Nyakagezi Gorilla Family is the only gorilla group habituated for trekking in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has over 80 Mountain Gorillas. This nine-member group has wandering tendencies as members go to Virunga in Democratic Republic of Congo and back often.