Susa -A Family
This group is very impressive with a family size now of 28 gorilla members with 3 Silverbacks. It was the largest Gorilla group and was famously studied by Dian Fossey. It was named after the Susa River which lies within their home range. Before it split into two, the group had 42 individuals and when one visited it, all you could see where Gorillas all over. The group is well known for the young twins named Byishimo & Impano who are very playful. Susa-A is now usually found relatively low down in the forest and the other Susa-B group also known as Karisimbi group roams the slopes of Karisimbi Volcano (4507M). The group sometimes migrates to higher altitude and hence makes tracking difficult. However, RDB tourism and conservation guides know where to find the group a day before in advance for the next trackers
Kulyama Family (Susa-B)
This is the family that split from the Original Susa (Susa-A) family and now it’s called Susa-B or Karisimbi Group. It contains 15 individuals and it always stays in the Karisimbi which the highest pick of Rwanda. The Karisimbi Group is better suited to visits from more serious hikers. It appears that they have established their home range high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. Thus, a visit to this group may well end up as a full-days trek.
This is one of the easily accessible groups in Volcanoes National Park. It is led by a powerful Silverback named Guhonda known in the Jungle. It has only 9 members with 2 Silverbacks which are all equally impressive as a family which is not the case with other groups. They mainly live in the gentle slopes between Mount Sabyinyo and Gahinga and thus are easy accessible.
The name Amahoro in the local Rwandese language means peaceful and is led by a calm silver back Gorilla named Ubumwe. The group consists of 17 members with one Silverback. It is a very a more strenuous group to access compared to Group 13 or Sabyinyo and one must endure a fairly steep climb which is well worth once in contact with this tranquil group.
Group 13 (Agashya Family)
This group is also called Agashya. At the time of habituation, the group had only 13 members and it’s because of this that it derived its name. The group number went on increasing in number and now it has 25 individuals. It is led by a silverback called Agashya and is in charge of protecting the whole family from fights and other conflicts with other nearby Gorilla groups. Formerly this group was commanded by Nyakarima who was challenged by Agashya meaning “the news”. Usually when there is trouble, Agashya takes his whole group on top of the Volcano to protect them.
This is a migrant Gorilla group from the Democratic republic of Congo and it has 18 individuals with 2 Silverbacks and one Blackback. It is led by a silverback known as Kwitonda which means “humble one”. Because of its migration from DRC, the group tends to range far making it a moderately difficult trek. Together with Susa this is one of the difficult groups to track.
This group is led by a dominant Silverback known as Charles and was formerly part of the Amahoro group. This group broke up from Amahoro after a dominant Silverback (Ubumwe) was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano. At the time of breakup from Amahoro, Charles could not stand getting orders from Ubumwe and yet he had grown into a silverback and so he decided to stage a fight and challenge Ubumwe. The fight went on for weeks and then months. Finally, Charles managed to snatch from Ubumwe a few females and formed his own group. Since then, he has commanded respect and recognition from Ubumwe. The group now has 9 individuals with 1 Silverback.
This is a group which emerged recently and was formed from different existing Gorilla families namely: Group 13 and Sabyinyo. However, as time went by, more gorillas joined. The group now has 12 members including 1 Silverback Gorilla from the Original Susa Group. The name Hirwa means ‘lucky one’ and it was opened for tourism in 2006.Despite being recently formed, Hirwa exhibits strength and holds its own amongst all the other established groups
The Family Size of this group is 11 individuals with Silverback. It is mostly found on the Slopes of the Karisoke Volcano. The group is led by a silverback named Bwenge and was formed in 2007 when he left his natal group and was gradually joined by females from other groups. This group has had some hard times, this is because there were some deaths of 6 infants. However now the group is growing strong with 2 successful births in the last few years and a strong capable silverback leader. The trek to see the group is tough and one has to hike up the hill or like 3 hours (gaining approximately 600m in elevation). The trails sometimes is muddy and very steep. Apparently it was also the group that was featured in the movie “Gorillas in the Mist”.
i who gave birth to Katembo, and Neza also gave birth. However on 15th July 2001, the Rugendo group was caught up in clashes between the military and the Interahamwe militia groups and as a result Rugendo the Silverback was shot dead just 40 meters from the park boundary. In 2007, the group was attacked and 4 Gorillas were shot dead including 3 adult females (Safari, Neza, and Mburanumwe) and the Senkwekwe who was the lead Silverback a successor of Rugendo.
Mapuwa some times called the Nyakagezi Family
The group is composed of 15 individuals of gorillas with 1 silverback and is found in Jomba near Bunagana (Congo-Uganda border)this goorilla family ssome times crosses to ugandas side , and out of that super natural knowledge of crossing the boarder it derived the name Nyakagezi out of its high level of inteligence. The group is lead by a silverback named Mapuwa and has acquired and protected his family by all means even in violent struggle. He was a son of Rugendo and left his father’s camp in 1998 and started his own family. When he left, he took along 2 adult females named Jicho and Mafaze. Continuously, he fought wars to acquire more females like in 2002, he fought with Pili-Pili and acquired 3 individuals from him and leaving him solitary. Consecutive births have occurred until now that the family has 15 individuals.
The group has 6 gorillas and 1 silverback. It is led by Lulengo himself and is found in Jomba near Bunagana (Congo-Uganda border). Lulengo was born into the Rugabo Family which was the first mountain gorilla family in the Mikeno Sector to be habituated. Formerly the group was called ‘Musekura’ but the Rangers changed his name to Lulengo in the memory of the Technical Director of Virunga National Park who was killed by a land mine. His father Rugabo also died violently when he was shot by poachers during the Great Lakes Refugee Crisis in 1994. After his death, the family was left in the hands of his sons Lulengo (Blackback), Pili-Pili, Mareru and Nvuyekure (Juvenile).
The group is located in Bukima close to Goma and has 7 gorillas with 2 silverbacks. It was the last Gorilla group to be found by rangers in 2008. The family was led by Munyaga by then the Silverback and the dominant adult female is named Bilali. She was from the Rugendo group in 2004 and after she joined, she had two babies but they both died in infancy. At the same time, Munyaga also disappeared and as of now, the group is under Silverback Mawazo who lived with Buhanga until 1997, then joined Karatega, then went back to Buhanga in 1998 and then, a month later, he joined the Munyaga Family.
Gorilla Families in Kahuzi Biega National Park in Congo
The trekking to see the Eastern lowland gorillas is open in the protected area of Kahuzi Biega National Park. In 2011 we recorded that there are three habituated families, Chimanuka, Mankoto and Mugaruka. With ten families of gorillas remaining in the park area, the estimated number of gorillas today is 140 individuals only. A previous survey conducted in 1992 was showing the presence of 25 families with a total number of 284 individuals. The political turmoil which followed during the 90th and till recent time has affected much the conservation of the species. A new gorilla family is under habituation in 2011.