Gorilla Families in Virunga National Park

Gorilla Families in Virunga National Park are amazing to visit on a Congo Gorilla Safari since you will get chance to observe how they inhabit the Virungas. Virunga national park administered by Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature is Africa’s oldest national park found in the Albertine Rift valley region in the eastern region of the Democratic of Republic of Congo. Virunga national park an area of 8,090 square kilometers is a UNESCO world heritage site recognized for its ecological potential, the park is home to the highly endangered mountain gorilla and famous for mountain gorilla trekking. Virunga also harbors chimpanzees, birds and numerous vegetation types including forests, savannas, and swamps, the park also consists of lava plains, erosion valleys, active volcanos, and Rwenzori volcanoes.

Gorilla Families in Virunga National Park
Gorilla Trekking in Virunga Park

Mountain gorilla trekking in Virunga national park takes place in the southern sector which harbors mostly on the flanks of the dormant mikeno volcano at the altitude of 14,557 feet which is covered by dense forest, this makes this the area suitable for being home to the great mountain gorillas. To participate in mountain gorilla trekking you need to possess a gorilla trekking permit which costs US$ 400 which permits you to only one with the mountain gorillas. Gorilla trekking in this place takes you through habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park.

Virunga national park is made up of 8 habituated gorillas families meaning they are used to the human presence where gorilla trekking takes place.

Rugendo gorilla family 

Rugendo gorilla group is one of the oldest habituated gorilla families in Virunga national park, Rugendo gorilla family was previously led by a dominant silverback rugendo (father of Humba leader of humba gorilla group) and currently, the group is led by a dominant silverback Bukima. This gorilla family was completely habituated by 1989 a process which was filled with a lot of difficulties due to serious group changes. By 1997 Rugendo family group had 18 gorilla individuals with two silverbacks that is Rugendo and Humba his son later in 1998 there was a conflict between Rugendo and his son Humba which result into Humba leaving the group with 10 members forming a new group named Humba leaving Rugendo gorilla group with only 8 members. After grabbing a sub-adult member from Mapuwa group the group currently consists of 9 members.

Humba gorilla family

Humba gorilla family referred to as the calmest habituated gorilla group in democratic republic of Congo and Virunga national park is found in bukima sector of the great park, humba gorilla currently consisting of 9 members is headed by a dominant silverback Humba and it is the most preferred group to trek by tourists. Silverback Humba split from his father Rugendo in 1998 and he is a brother to silverback Senkwekwe who was shot to death by unknown gunmen on 22nd July 2007, his leadership is being appreciated that is why there is no signs of power struggles in this gorilla family.

Kabirizi gorilla family

Kabirizi gorilla group was formerly known as the Ndungutse gorilla family which was led by a dominant silverback Ndungutse, the group’s name was changed after the assassination of extremely humble giant silverback Ndungutse in 1997. Dominant Ndungutse was murdered after being caught in across fire during a conflict between the army of Democratic Republic of Congo and rebel groups in the Bukima patrol post. After the tragic death of the then leader, the group was named Kabirizi a name derived from the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) director who died in an accident in the late 1990s. Currently, the Kabirizi gorilla group of 19 gorilla individuals is led by a dominant silverback Kabirizi. Kabirizi was a wild unhabituated gorilla not until 1998 after successfully under through habituation process. Currently, kabirizi ruling is under threat facing stiff completion from a young strong silverback. Trekking in this gorilla group starts from Bukima patrol post.  

Mapuwa gorilla family 

Mapuwa gorilla group of Virunga national park was previously led by a dominant silverback Mapuwa (a son of Rugendo leader Rugendo group and a brother to Humba a leader of Humba group) who was very strong and tirelessly fought and protected his family through numerous violent struggles. Mapuwa broke away from his father‘s group in 1988 starting his own family together with 2 adult females Jicho and Mafaze he left with. In continuous fights Mapuwa has acquired many members to his group like in 2002 he fought Pilipili a famous silverback in Virunga taking all his family members, there has also been several births which have increased the number of members to currently 22 gorillas lead by a dominant silverback Mvuyekure and the family is found in jomba adjacent to Bunagana (Congo – Uganda border).

Gorilla Families in Virunga National Park
Gorilla Families in Virunga National Park

Lulengo gorilla family

Lulengo gorilla family formerly known as Musekura group is also found in the jomba area near Bunagana (Congo-Uganda border), the group’s name was changed to Lulego a name of a dominant silverback and in memory of the Technical Director of Virunga National Park who lost his life to a land mine. The group is led by a dominant silverback Lulengo, silverback Lulengo was born in the Rugabo group “the first habituated gorilla family in mikeno sector “which was led by Silverback Rugabo his father. Unfortunately, in 1994 Rugabo was shot by poachers during the great lakes refugee crisis leading to his death. After his death, the gorilla family was now in hands of the then black back Lulengo who is now a silverback leading the group as an alpha. Currently, the group consists of 9 members 

Munyaga gorilla family

Munyaga gorilla family named after its then leader munyaga is a famous group for hosting an adult female who joined the group from Rugendo group Bilali who gave birth to twins, unfortunately, twins both died in the infant stage, the group is found and tracked in the bukima sector. Munyaga gorilla family’s habituation process started in 2008, the group is also famous for hosting a bold headed silverback Kadogo. The group is leadership has been shifted from silverbacks to silverbacks, from silverback munyaga to silverback Mawazo and currently Munyaga gorilla group of 7 members is led by a powerful silverback Gasore. The leadership of silverback Gasore is facing challenges from other silverbacks. 

Nyakamwe gorilla family 

Nyakamwe gorilla family of Virunga national park is one of the newly habituated gorilla families ready for Gorilla  trekking, together with the Bageni gorilla family they went through the habituation process at the same time. Nyakamwe gorilla family is the second-largest gorilla family with 11 members under the leadership of Nyakamwe a dominant silverback. This group deriving its name from its leader is peaceful experiencing no power struggles.

Bageni gorilla family 

The newly habituated Bageni gorilla family is the largest habituated gorilla family in Virunga national park, currently, this group is made up of 26 members and lead by a dominant silverback Bageni who is facing stiff completion from 2 other silverback Kanamaharagi and Kitagend for the alpha role in the group.

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