Gorilla families in the Virunga national park : The Virunga national park is one of the four homes of the last remaining endangered mountain gorillas of the world. The mountain gorillas live in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic republic of Congo and these are the only countries that you can visit and spot the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. The biggest number of mountain gorillas are living in the Virunga Mountain range and the Virunga national park lies in this range.
The mountain gorillas are quite social animals within themselves as they live in a setting of a family. The gorilla families are led by one dominant male silverback with members of about 8 up to 30 members, females with their young ones and some younger male gorillas. The mountain gorilla families of the Virunga national park are habituated and there are currently 8 habituated gorilla families that guests on a Congo gorilla trekking safari can visit.
A mountain gorilla family is available for visits on a daily once the park is open and each of these gorilla families welcomes 8 visitors per day. The limit of 8 visitors is a measure to ensure conservation as the small number doesn’t destroy the natural element of the forest or exceed the capacity of the area. Get to visit any of these gorilla families below on your Congo safari.
- Kabirizi family
The Kabirizi family is one of the gorilla families in the Virunga national park and the members of this group originate from the Zunguruka group and are led by a silverback gorilla known as Zunguruka. This family is found in the Bukima sector and was habituated in 1994. Their leader Zunguruka died from old age and was succeeded by his eldest son Ndungutse who was killed by poachers and Buhanga, who was also later killed and after Nsekuye took on and is still leading this group.
This group currently has 24 members as last recorded in March 2020.
- Bageni family
The Bageni family was led by Bageni, a dominant silverback gorilla and this was in 2010 but later broke away from his father Kabirizi in 2013. Bageni started this family with 20 family members in January 2013 after clashing with his father.
Bageni left with another silverback Kanamahalagi and another male gorilla called Ntamuvulira. The Bageni family currently has 36 family members are three of these are 19 new births and three are silverbacks. This family has also recorded six deaths.
- Mapuwa family
The Mapuwa family was first led by the dominant silverback Mapuwa up until 1995 as he chose the path of a solitary male in August that year along with his brother Rugendo. This group grew fast as by 2009, there were about 15 members.
By 2020, there were 22 members in the Mapuwa family and the latest is the family has 24 gorillas with two silverbacks Mvuyekure and Mapuwa who is still the leader.
- Rugendo family
The Rugendo family is located in the Jomba area and this was one of the first families to be habituated in 1984 and the family had 10 members at the time. By 1998, there were 18 members shortly before the group split into two in December that year after a clash between Rugendo and his son Humba.
Rugendo was killed by the rebel group of the Bukima area and this is when his other son Senkwekwe took over but was also shortly killed brutally leaving the group with no leader but after this area reclaimed its peace, Bukima a male gorilla was seen leading the group and is still identified as the leader. By 2020, there were 11 members of this gorilla family after 6 births and two emigrations.
Senkwekwe is the gorilla that the Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage was named after and this is the world’s only mountain gorilla orphanage center.
- Lulengo family
The Lulengo family was first led by Rugabo, named by the habituation team, but was attacked in 1994 along with the two females of the group and they were brutally killed and the young one kidnapped with an aim to be trafficked. After those responsible were arrested, the family was then led by Lulengo who assumed leadership of the remaining 12 family members.
The family currently has eleven members as of March 2020 but recorded seven births, one migration and one death from 2010 to 2020.
- Munyaga family
The Munyaga family was habituated after 1998 and was rarely tracked so little was known about this group. This family was close to the Buhanga family and their members ended up joining this group. This group is being analyzed more and this group had a one Kadogo, a gorilla in the Mikeno sector with a bald head.
This group is currently led by Mawazo since 2010 with ten members, five births, no deaths and one emigration.
- Humba family
This Humba family was born in December 1998 after disagreement between Humba and his father Rugendo bearing the Humba family and the Rugendo group. In 2009, this family recorded one death but the growth was to 17 individuals. The family is currently at 13 gorillas despite the fight between Humba and the son Mahundure.
- Nyakamwe family
The Nyakamwe family was born in 2014 after the silverback broke off from the Rugendo family. Nyakamwe was the co leader to his brother Humba and they fell out in 2014, Nyakamwe moved away with ten individuals leaving Humba with six gorilla members.
This family is currently at 14 members and since 2014, there have been six births in this family, three deaths and one migration.
Book yourself a gorilla trekking experience in the Virunga and visit one of these gorilla families depending on your interest. Get in touch with us and let us plan your visit to the DR Congo.