The 10 Habituated Gorilla Groups Tracked in Rwanda
Rwanda is a home to about one third of the world wide population mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas live in 3 countries in the whole world. This is DRC, Rwanda and Uganda.
Rwanda has 10 habituated gorilla families reserved for gorilla trekking while two are for research purposes. Rwanda is very popular for gorilla trekking and conservation due to the works of Dian Fossey who spent many years studying the behavior of Mountain gorillas and how to conserve these endangered great apes.
The following are the 10 habituated gorilla groups that can be trekked in Rwanda.
The Titus family.
The Titus family is the original family named after the silverback Titus which was born during the days of Dian Fossey’s research at Karisoke which was the gorilla group Dian Fossey was studying.
Titus the your gorilla lost his family to poachers including his father, uncle and brother and his mother and sister joined other families leaving Titus to be raised by an unrelated male gorillas.
According to Dian Fossey, Titus the infant seemed “underdeveloped and spindly” and had difficulty breathing, but Titus overcame these difficulties.
Susan gorilla family (A) aka Kurira family
This gorilla family derives its name or was named after River Susa which runs through the Area where Susa group normally call home. Susa gorilla family is indeed historical and one of the popular groups in as far as conservation studies of mountain gorillas is concerned.
It is Susa gorilla family that Dian Fossey studied while he was in Rwanda before her death in 1985.
Susa gorilla family is one of the hardest group to trek in Volcanoes NPK due to the fact that it is normally found in the high altitudes. There when it climbs so high that tourists are not allowed to trek it.
Susa gorilla family had the highest number of individuals in the volcano NPK numbering up to 42 members but because of gorilla family dynamics, in fights and group separations, Susa now had 28 members with 3 silverbacks, as well as two twins of Impano and Byishimo.
Susa group is thus for those tourists who are adventurous, like long and hard treks and above all would love to meet the twin gorillas.
Karisimbi group (Susa B)
This is sometimes referred to as Susa B and is the group which split from the original Susa in 2008. It is made up of 16 members including two silverbacks. The group is the hardest to track as it inhabits the upper slopes of mountain Karisimbi at an altitude of 4507m. The group has established their home high in the upper slopes and is suitable for trackers interested in serious hiking. Tracking this group is sometimes difficult as they go further high RDB rangers will first locate the group a day before.
Sabinyo gorilla family
It was named after the Sabinyo volcano that means the “old man’s teeth”. This family derives it’s names from mountain Sabinyo . This gorilla group has two wonders or advantages. It has the biggest silverback called Guhonda which weighs 220kgs and is normally the easiest to trek among all gorilla families in Volcano NPK.
This is because it’s normally found in the gentle slopes of Sabinyo and Mgahinga making it easy to trek. For all that are looking for an easier gorilla family to trek should consider Sabinyo gorilla family. This mountain gorilla family has 2 silverbacks with Guhonda being the dominant one while Ryango silverback is the second in command, three adult females, and three juvenile gorillas.
Amahoro gorilla family
Amahoro is a Rwandese word meaning Peace is one of the gorilla families in Rwanda. Amahoro is thus peaceful family and those that have managed to track this gorilla family will testify that indeed all members are very peaceful. This group is led by the dominant silverback called Ubumwe which means Togetherness, then it has to be Amahoro mountain gorilla family. More often Amahoro gorilla group has been observed roaming on the slopes of mountain Visoke and those trekking it should expect a medium to harder but awesome experience.
Amahoro gorilla family currently has 17 individuals including Ubumwe the dominant silverback, 2 blackbacks, 5 juveniles, 5 adult females and 4 young gorillas. Mountain gorilla families keep changing in terms of members.
The 13 group (Agashya gorilla family)
It had 13 members living together as a family but due to better conservation methods by the government of Rwanda, the group has expanded to 25 members. This gorilla family group is named after Agashya who is the dominant silverback and the leader of the group.
Agashya gorilla family has one dominant silverback, 12 mature females, 3 juveniles and 7 young gorillas thus 25 individuals in total.
Initially Agashya gorilla group was headed by a silverback known as Nyakairima but after a deadly fight, Agashya over powered him and took over the leadership. Nyakairima left with no choice had to leave the group. Agashya silverback was very ambitious having expanded the group from 12 members to 25 members. Agashya gorilla group is normally found in the foot hills of mountain Mgahinga and Sabinyo and once in a while this group moves uphill.
It is believed that Agashya is very protective that whenever he senses danger, he will direct the whole gorilla group to move from downhill to uphill.
Umubano gorilla family
This family comprises of 7 members including the silverback. The Umubano group was formed by members of the Amahoro family after Charlse, one of the other males, broke off and is now leader of his own group.
Kwitonda gorilla family
This is a migrant from DRC which was named after its dominant silverback called Kwitonda. This group comprises of 23 members including 4 silverbacks. The Kwitonda family is named after the dominant silverback of this group means “humble one”. Because of its migration background, the group wonders in the lower slopes of mountain Muhavura and like Karisimbi group. It’s onerous to track as it sometimes moves to the upper slopes.
Hirwa gorilla family
This mountain gorilla family comprises of 13 members including one silverback. Still a new group that emerged recently and is formed from 2 different families, group 13 Sabinyo. This family was formed in 2006 by some members of Sabinyo group and others from 13 group (Agashya). More gorillas joined in and now the group is composed of 16 members including one silverback. Hirwa means “the lucky one” and as luck has it. The group got twins in 2011. Hirwa group inhabits the foothills of mountain Sabinyo to the side of mountain Mgahinga.
Bwenge group was formed as early as 2007 by Bwenge, and named after him the group’s dominant silverback, after he had left his natal group and was joined by females from other groups. The group occupies slopes of Karisoke volcano between Karisimbi and Bisoke mountains and had witnessed dark times when its 6 infants died. The group has however recovered and now has 11 members including one silverback. Bwenge is a Kinyarwanda word which means “wisdom” and it’s no wonder that this was the group that featured the movie “gorillas in the mist”.