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Rwanda Gorilla Families

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Rwanda has got 10 mountain gorillas that have been habituated for tracking in volcanoes national park. There are also 480 mountain gorillas in Virunga Mountains and these are shared between Rwanda and Congo while other mountain gorillas are found in Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga national park. Rwanda gorilla families are divided into two; those for study and others for research purposes and these can only be accessed by the researchers and the scientists. These include Beetsme and the Pablo’s Shida and these have got the largest numbers of individuals. The other 10 families which are for tourism purposes and these are the ones which the gorilla trekkers do visit. Only 8 people can visit each group per day spending a maximum of one hour interacting with them, these groups include; Susa group, Group 13, Sabinyo, Kwitonda, Umubano, Bwengye, Karisimbi, Hirwa and Ugenda.

Susa Group.
This is the Susa A family and this was studied by Dian Fossey. This name was derived from the Susa River which also flows through the home range. However, the family is the hardest to track since it tends to range so high into the mountains but the rangers will always find where the group is for the next trackers. Some groups if the trackers have been refused to track this family due to the distant locations. The group is so impressive with the family size of 28 members with 3 silverbacks; this was the largest group before it split up, since it had 42 members. This group is also well known for the young twins namely Byishimo and Impano who are so playful and interesting. This family also contains one of the oldest habituated gorillas , poppy who was born in 1976 and is believed to be coming from one of Dian Fossey;s gorilla groups.

Karisimbi Family
This is Susa B and it’s the group that split from the original Susa (Susa A) family and it got its name as Karisimbi Group. It has got only 15 individuals and also it stays in the slopes of Karisimbi volcano which is also the highest pick in Rwanda. This group is also best suited to visitors for serous hikers. These members have established their home range high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. This trek might take you a full day trek since the group sometimes migrates to higher altitude which makes the tracking difficult. The rangers are always there at your service however, the family can be prohibited due to the distant location.

Sabinyo Gorilla Group
This family is the easily accessed and its lead by a powerful silverback called Guhonda, who is the largest silverback of all the groups, he is also known for massive physical appearance. He also kept his main challenger Ryango out of the group and he made him a lonely silverback. This group has got only 8 individuals who are so impressive like other members of other groups. This group was also named after the sabinyo volcano which means old man’s teeth; it’s one of the families close to the park edge with members including the 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 1 non adult female and 2 juveniles with 1 baby.

Amahoro Gorilla Group
This name means peaceful group and it’s the most peaceful of all the gorilla groups. This family has got 17 members with 1 silverback, 2 blackbucks, 5 adult females, 2 sub adult males, 2 juveniles and 5 babies. Ubumwe who is the silverback is so peaceful, easy going and calm, he has also lost some members to Charles in the Umubano group, this group is found in a steep hill, but the climb is well worth it once in contact with this beautiful and peaceful group.
Umubano Group
This name means Neighborliness and the group has got 11 individuals with 1 silverback, 1 sub adult male, 6 babies, 3 adult females. These were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback was also challenged by Charles who is now the leader of Umubano.
Charles matured into a silverback of the same rank as Ubumwe and he could not stand being given orders and also decided to stage a fight and challenged Ubumwe. This fight went on for weeks and month and Charles managed to snatch from Ubumwe a few of the females and formed his own group thus Umubano was formed.
13 Group ( Aka Agasha Group)
This group had got 13 members hence making its name. But now the group has got 25 members with 1 silverback, 12 adult females, 2 sub adult females, 3 juveniles and 7 babies. This group was formerly commanded by Nyakarima who was challenged by Agashya which means news. The group members have also been increased to 25 individuals. Agashya is also known as the first sign of trouble, so that it takes its members to the top of the volcano.
Kwitonda Family
This group has got 18 members and it’s led by a silverback called Kwitonda meaning the humble one, and it also has two silverbacks and one black back. These migrated from Congo and this tends to range far making it a moderately difficult to track.
Hirwa Group
The group also came into existence in 2006 when the trackers witnessed its formation by the merging of some members from two different existing families, namely from group 13 and Sabinyo making a very small group. The group has got 18 members including the 1 silverback, 3 adult females, 2 sub adult females and 3 babies.
Bwenge family
This family has 11 individuals with silverbacks. It’s also found in the slopes of the Karisoke volcano and it’s led by a silverback by names of Bwenge and it was formed in 2007 when he left his natal group and was later joined by females from other groups. The group lost 6 members due to death and now the group is growing together with 2 successful births in last few years, the trek to view these gorillas is so tough and one needs to hike up the hill for over 3 hours. These trails are mostly muddy and very steep.
Ugenda Family
This group is also found in Karisimbi area OF Rwanda and the family size consists of only 11 individuals with 2 silverbacks. The name means being on the move and this means that it was named due to the constant movements of this group. Tracking this group is kinder difficult due to the movements.