GORILLA FAMILIES IN RWANDA
Gorilla trekking is the most attracting activity in Africa, masses of tourists flock the continent just searching out for the one lifetime experiences with the mighty endangered apes in their natural habitats.
Unfortunately, gorilla tracking in Africa can only be done in three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Uganda, travelers trek the gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable forest national park and Mgahinga national park, in Rwanda it done in Volcanoes National park and then in Virunga national park in DR Congo.
Quite a good number of gorilla families has been habituated and very ready to receive eight visitor per day. In Rwanda’s volcanoes national park, there are ten habituated gorilla families, making 80 gorilla permits available each day. Each of the families has something unique to offer, maybe in size, character, dominance, story and many more.
Below are some of the habituated groups in Volcanoes national park in Rwanda, with some detailed information about each group.
This name means “Lucky one”. It was habituated in 2006 and is a group of 16 members who joined from other families, it homes at the foothills of Mount Gahinga and Mount Sabinyo. In 2011 the group was blessed with a set of twins and this is also one unique feature that attracts most trekkers to this amazing gorilla family in Rwanda.
Susa family (Susa A).
This is the biggest gorilla family in Volcanoes national park. With currently 33 members and 2 silverbacks, Susa A was a group of 42 members before it split. It is this size of the family that captivates a number of trekkers and the rare twins found in this group. Susa A is also more popular to the tourists because it was the first group that Dian Fossey first studied back in her years. It lives in the lower base of Mountain Karisimbi and it’s the most challenging group to trek but still the most preferred family by almost all trekkers in Rwanda.
Karisimbi group (Susa B).
The family just split from Susa family in 2008 and became independent. The group consists of 16 members with two silverbacks. It lives at the upper slopes of Karisimbi Mountain, so trekking this group involves hiking to high slopes of mount Karisimbi.
This group got its name from mountain Sabinyo. It inhabits the slopes between Mountain Sabinyo and Mount Mgahinga in the Virunga ranges. It has 13 gorilla members with 2 mighty silverbacks, with one of the silverbacks still appearing as the largest ape in Volcanoes national park. Trekking the Sabinyo family also offers experiences like no other.
This was just a break away from the Amahoro family after the disagreements among the leaders. Charles the leader of Umubano failed to agree with Ubumwe the dominant silverback in Amahoro group and they decided to separate peacefully. Even now these two groups meet and stay together peacefully but separate at the end of the day.
With more than 25 group members, Agashya was first habituated with only 13 members. It got its name from its dominant silverback that overthrew their former leader Nyakarima. It occupies the same territory as the sabinyo group. One of its unique features is that it runs deeper into the forest when it senses trouble.
This is a family of 18 members with two silverbacks led by Ubumwe as a dominant silverback. The name Amahoro means peace, and it’s indeed the most peaceful group in the park for all times. Living on the slopes of Mountain Karisimbi, trekking the Amahoro family is a bit hectic but experience is worth every sweat.
The gorilla family is led by Kwitonda, a name that means “the humble one”. It formerly lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo before it moved to Rwanda for settlement.
Being the first group to be habituated in the days of Dian Fossey, the group has great history. It got its name from its dominant silverback Tius. Though the group was first threatened by the poachers who killed most of its members for meat, it’s now a steady family ready to be trekked.
This is a group of 11 members led by Bwenge silverback. It also dwells at the slopes of mountain Karisimbi and was first opened to trekkers in 2007. Bwenge gorilla family first lost over 6 member groups but now it stabilized its expansion.