Gorilla's falimies in Rwanda

Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is carried out in Volcanoes National Park. In Rwanda, Gorilla’s families or groups are divided into two. There are those families which are for the study purposes and these are only accessed by scientists and researchers. These include: Beetsme, and Pablo’s Shida’s and have the largest number of individuals. There are also other groups which are open for tourism and as per now they are 10 habituated groups and only a limited number of 8 people is allowed to track a gorilla group per day. These groups include:

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.

Karisimbi 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.

Sabyinyo Family

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.

Amahoro Family

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.

Kwitonda Family

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.

Umubano Family

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.

Hirwa Family

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.

Ugenda Family

This Group is found in Karisimbi area of Rwanda. The Family Size consists of 11 gorillas with 2 silverbacks. Its name means “being on the move” and was named because it was always moving from one area to another. Since its not in one place, tracking it may be some how difficult and involves also moving from one place to another to locate them.

Bwenge Family

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".

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