How many Gorilla Families are in Rwanda?

How many Gorilla Families are in Rwanda

Rwanda is one of Africa’s best safari destinations with its uniqueness of fauna and flora. Mainly known for its vibrancy of mountain gorillas and other species of primates. Rwanda is part of Virunga conservation area, the only region in which mountain gorillas can be found in the world.

Mountain gorillas are conserved in Volcanoes National Park and grouped into 13 families. Each of the families have distinctive features such as family composition, dominant silverback, area inhabited, and many other. Each of the mountain gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park is explained below.

  1. Sabyinyo Gorilla Family.

It attained this name because of its location at the footing of Mount. Sabyinyo. Sabyinyo is under the leadership of Guhonda. He is the largest and strongest silverback in Volcanoes National Park. In his family, he’s the only silverback, and has always fought off his periodic challenger Ryango.

The name Sabyinyo means “old man’s teeth” in Kinyarwanda language. Sabyinyo Gorilla Family has a composition of 18 members and it’s one of the fastest growing gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park.

2. Susa Gorilla Family.

This is one of the most favorite gorilla families by trekkers within Volcanoes National Park. It was popularized by Dian Fossey. Her research activities were initially on this family, before she subsequently took on other families within the Park. This Gorilla Family lives near the Susa River, and because of that, it was named so. The family was the largest before its initial disintegration, with a member composition of over 42 individuals.

Presently, it has only 21 members. It’s the most difficult family to trek within the Park because it inhabits the high altitude volcanic regions. Trekkers usually take an entire day tracking the family. One of the most amusing features is its stubborn twins, Impano and Byishimo.

3. Umubano Gorilla Family.

It’s one of the habituated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. Umubano in Kinyarwanda means “living together.” The family members were initially part of the Ubumwe Gorilla Family but following a fierce fight between the two silverbacks in the family, Ubumwe and Charles, the family was split. The two silverbacks contested on who should lead the family. Consequentially, they couldn’t agree, and each silverback retained a potion of the family members.

Charles later became the silverback of the 14 member Umubano Gorilla Family. It has one silverback, black back, 3 adult females, and their infants. Charles is known for his protective nature.

4. Bwenge Gorilla Family.

In Kinyarwanda, this family’s name means “wisdom.” Bwenge family was featured in Michael Apted’s movie titled “Gorillas in the mist”. The movie was produced in 1988 to depict the life of Dian Fossey while in the jungles of Rwanda.

It was formed in 2007 by its leading silverback Bwenge. It’s comprised of 11 members, which makes it one of the least populated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. It inhabits the corridor between Mountains Bisoke and Karisimbi.

5. Kwisanga Gorilla Family.

Kwisanga family is under able leadership of silverback Kigoma. It’s one of the recently formed gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. It was established in May, 2021. Kigoma initially belonged to the Kwitonda Gorilla Family, but as a result of the feud between him and his former leader, he caused a family split.

The Kwisanga Gorilla Family has 17 family members, with 2 silverbacks, 2 Blackbacks, 2 sub adult males, 3 females, 3 juveniles and 5 infants.

6. Agashya Gorilla Family.

With a total of about 20 members, Agashya Gorilla Family is one of the most trekked Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park. Initially, it was termed as 13 group because of its 13 initial family members. It acquired the name from Agashya, who was family’s dominant silverback.

Agashya’s assent to power was contested, and he had a deadly fight with Nyakairima, a dominant silverback from his former family. On winning the fight, he wandered with breakaway members to the far highlands in order to avoid any unseen intrusion from potential enemy silverbacks.

Agashya’s focus on good leadership has enabled his family to keep intact, and because of the harmony his family members share, his family has had a significant increase in its population, with 12 female gorillas, 3 blackbacks, and 4 infants. Because of constant daily movements of Agashya Gorilla Family, trekkers get some difficulty in trekking this family. However, it’s an awesome family to trek.

7. Amahoro Gorilla Family.

This is the most harmonious and peaceful gorilla family. Its name is derived from the word “Peace.” It is one of the largest member gorilla families. It’s led by Ubumwe, its dominant silverback. Amahoro is currently settled along the slopes of Mount. Bisoke. Ubumwe is known for his calm nature, and because of that, the family has overtime lost members to other families.

Amahoro family’s number is presently at 21 members, but it’s feared that it may reduce too because of peaceful nature of Ubumwe. It’s therefore of no wonder that the family’s name means “peace” in Kinyarwanda. This feature makes Amahoro family the easiest to bond with because there’s barely any physical resistance from the family members.

8. Igisha Gorilla Family.

Igisha Gorilla Family was formed in 2014, as a result of the splitting that took place in Susa B Group. It’s one of the highest populated gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. Like the family’s name, its leading silverback is Igisha. This gorilla family has 34 members and resides close to a river within Volcanoes National Park.

9. Isimbi Gorilla Family.

The Isimbi Gorilla Family is under the leadership of Muturengere. It inhabits the jungles on the slopes of Mountain Karisimbi. The family’s first dominant silverback was known as Getty, but sadly passed on after suffering from Pneumonia.

The family has had a few additional members and now has 16 members. The Isimbi Gorilla Family was formed from a hostile breakaway in the Karisimbi Gorilla Family in 2013.

10. Karisimbi Gorilla Family.

Karisimbi Gorilla Family has one of the richest histories in Volcanoes National Park. Its family initially belonged to the Susa Gorilla Group. However, because of the constant wrangles among Susa Gorilla Group silverbacks, it was just a matter of time until Nyagakangaga, the dominant silverback of Karisimbi Gorilla Family, broke away with 13 gorillas in 2009. The family was later named ‘Susa B Group’. In 2010, the family’s name was changed to Karisimbi Gorilla Family because it had finally settled on the slopes of Mountain Karisimbi.

It has a total of 10 family members, with 2 adult females, 4 silverbacks, 2 Black Backs, and 2 infants. Because of the family’s location at a higher altitude, trekking Karisimbi Gorilla Family takes a whole day.

11. Kwitonda Gorilla Family.

This gorilla family migrated from D.R Congo’s Virunga National Park, and settled in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. It has lived within Volcanoes National Park for many years now, and barely shows any signs of ever returning to Virunga National Park. The family’s name means “Humble one” in Kinyarwanda. The family was named so because of its dominant silverback’s humble character.

The family’s leader, Kwitonda, was known for his humbleness, and there’s rarely any documented history of any fights with other silverbacks within Volcanoes National Park. The family has a total of 20 members, after getting two infant births, raising the family’s number from its initial 18 members. Kwitonda gorilla family can be trekked along the slopes of mountains Muhabura, or Karisimbi. The slopes of these two mountains are covered with thick forests which make penetration for most trekkers difficult. However, it’s an awesome gorilla family to encounter.

12. Muhoza Gorilla Family.

It’s part of the 12 mountain gorilla families in Volcanoes National Park. It’s made up of 17 members. The family was formed in 2016 and is the recent additional families to Volcanoes National Park. The family attained its name from Muhoza, the family’s leading silverback.

Trekking Muhoza family was launched in December, 2016, and at the time, Muhoza Gorilla Family only had 7 family members. Muhoza later raided the Hirwa Gorilla Family from which he took 2 adult females. Due to recent births, the family’s population has significantly increased. The family has a silverback, 7 adult female gorillas, a sub adult female, a juvenile, and 7 infants.

13. Sabyinyo Gorilla Family.

This is one of the oldest gorilla families in Rwanda. It was formed in 1992, after its dominant silverback parted ways with its former family. The family’s dominant silverback is known as Guhonda. Sabyinyo is a family made up of 13 members. Guhonda is documented to be the largest silverback to have ever lived in Volcanoes National Park. Sabyinyo family is known for its entertaining characteristic and gets a maximum of 8 trekkers per day.