Gorilla families in Uganda

There are 23 gorilla families in Uganda that have been habituated for gorilla trekking safaris which take place in Mgahinga gorilla national park and Bwindi impenetrable national park. Bwindi alone is famous for harboring 459 of the 1,063 gorillas which is almost half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. The number of habituated groups in Bwindi is 22 of which 2 are designated for research and habituation experience. Bwindi is divided into four sectors which include Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija, and Rushaga. Mgahinga, which is part of the Virunga Mountains, offers only one gorilla family for trekking.

Gorilla Families

 A gorilla family in Bwindi impenetrable national park

Gorilla families in Buhoma sector

Buhoma sector is the headquarters of Bwindi impenetrable national park and its where gorilla tourism started in 1993. The sector offers the best luxury lodges in Bwindi and less strenuous gorilla treks due to lower altitudes. There are six gorilla families in Buhoma which include the following:-


The Mubare gorilla family is among the first three to be opened for trekking in Uganda in 1993. The group was led by one silverback called Ruhondeza, which died in 2012. Ruhondeza was succeeded by one of its off springs called Kanyonyi, which unfortunately fell from a tree and sustained permanent back impairment. Kanyonyi’s leadership was short-lived when a solitary silverback named Maraya attacked and killed it in 2017 taking over leadership up to now. The infants that Kanyonyi had left became victims of infanticide due to the fact that Maraya wanted to produce its own off springs that not are a threat to his dominance in future. As such, Mubare is one of the gorilla families that have continuously been led by a single silverback in the entire Bwindi impenetrable national park. Today, the group consists of 7 members including 3 adult females, 2 infants, and 1 juvenile. Mubare’s home range spans the area around the main gorilla trekking center and sometimes the gorillas tend to forage nearby the lodges next to the center including Buhoma Lodge and Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. Treks to find Mubare begin right from the center, making for one of the easiest to trek gorilla families in Bwindi.


The gorilla family also abbreviated as group H was habituated in 1996. It was named Habinyanja, a dialect of the Bakiga, which refers to a place with water. The area where the gorillas reside consists of smaller patches of swamps and waterlogged valleys. As such, trekking group H can be challenging due to the nature of terrain. In fact the dominant silverback Makara tends to colonize new areas faraway from Buhoma. There are different trailheads used to access the group. When allocated to group H, you may begin at the park center and take a short a drive away. Habinyanja family has 13 members which include 2 silverbacks, 4 back backs, 2 sub-adult males, 4 adult females, and an infant.

Rushegura (Group R)

Rushegura gorilla family was formed when some gorillas split away from the Habinyanja group in 2002. Once the group reunited, they migrated and formed its home range near the Buhoma gorilla center. The group tends to forage on the park boundary along the Munyaga River, making for one of the easiest gorilla families to track in Bwindi. Rushegura has 16 individuals which include 2 silverbacks, 5 adult females, 2 black backs, 2 sub-adult males, 1 sub-adult female and 4 infants.


One of the newest gorilla families in Bwindi, Katwe consists of 8 members who include 2 silverbacks, 1 black-back, 3 adult females and 2 infants. UWA started to monitor Katwe in 2018 following the death of Kanyonyi, the silverback of Mubare group that was killed by a solitary male. Some members started to disintegrate and two adult females from Mubare joined Katwe. With both habituated and un-habituated members, Katwe was put under habituation and eventually opened for tourism in 2022. The group is led by a dominant silverback called Mahaane with the home range in Buhoma sector.


The Binyindo gorilla family has 9 individuals including a dominant silverback called Binyindo, which refers to its unique nasal part. Among other members in the group include 5 adult females, an infant, and 2 juveniles.


The Muyambi gorilla group broke from the Mubare family in 2019. The Silverback Muyambi grabbed four adult females of which two reproduced bringing the total to seven individuals.

Gorilla families in Nkuringo sector

Nkuringo sector is home to four gorilla families of which one is still undergoing habituation as explained below:-

Nkuringo gorilla family

The Nkuringo group consists of 15 members including a young baby gorilla which was born in late April 2024. Those intending to witness how the mother gorilla carries and grooms its baby should visit the Nkuringo family. The group also witnessed birth of twins shortly in 2004 shortly after it had just been opened for tourism. Habituation of Nkuringo began in 1997 when the family had 17 members, however. Its social structure has evolved over time due to unfortunate circumstances. For instance, the group’s dominant silverback Rafiki (friend) was killed by poachers during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022.


With 17 individuals, Posho is one of the largest habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable national park. The group members include a silverback, 1 sub-adult male, 1 sub-adult female, 8 adult females, 4 infants, and 2 juveniles. The family was named Posho given that the habituators used to eat maize corn during habituation.


Bushaho resides in Nkuringo sector with 9 individuals who include a dominant silverback Bahati, 2 black backs, an infant, 3 adult females, and 2 juveniles. Bahati formerly belonged to the Nkuringo group, however. The silverback broke away with several members and formed its own group which the UWA Authority team discovered in 2012. In the course of following up, the rangers found out that that both habituated and non-habituated gorillas had joined the new group under the leadership of Bahati. It was named Bushaho, a name derived from its home range that spans a large area in Nkuringo sector near the border with Rushaga. Given that the silverback Bahati was already habituated, it wasn’t relatively easy to habituate the other wild members. As such, the Bushaho was opened for gorilla habituation experience, where visitors spend 4 hours with the group.

Christmas gorilla family

Christmas is one of the Bwindi gorilla families that are subject of recent habituation. The group consists of 8 individuals led by one silverback called Christmas. Among other members in Christmas gorilla family include 1 sub-adult male, 2 adult females, 2 sub-adult females, and 2 infants.

Gorilla families in Rushaga sector

Kutu gorilla family

Kutu is one of the recently habituated groups in Bwindi impenetrable national park. There are 20 individuals in the group which include Silverback Ndugu, one black back, 8 adult females, 1 sub-adult male, 2 juveniles, and 7 infants.

Mucunguzi gorilla family

Mucunguzi is among the Bwindi gorilla families that have been habituated recently. Its habituatation came when a solitary silverback called raided Bikyingi group and took away several adult females. UWA rangers identified the silverback and named it Mucunguzi, which means savior in English. The family has 15 individuals including 1 dominant silverback, 2 sub-adult females, 7 adult-females, 1 juvenile and 4 infants.


The gorilla family Kahungye was once the largest gorilla family in Bwindi. At the habituation in 2008, the group had 29 individuals including 3 silverbacks of Rwiigi, Riziika, and Busingye. They fought for dominance and eventually the group split into two. Kahungye is composed of 15 individuals including the silverback Katsigazi, 4 adult females, 4 black backs, 1 sub-adult female, 4 infants, and 1 juvenile.  The group resides among hills known as Kahungye in Rushaga sector.


There are 17 members in the Busingye gorilla family led by Busingye, a silverback that broke away from Kahungye in 2012. Busingye means peaceful in English and the silverback is known for being peaceful. Given that the group formed its home range far away from its rival groups into the heart of Bwindi impenetrable forest national park.


Nshongi was one of the biggest gorilla families with 34 individuals at the time when it was habituated. There were several silverbacks which fought for dominance, dividing the group into two other groups of Bweza and Mishaya. Nshongi remained with 13 members including the silverback Bweza, I sub-adult male, 1 black back, 4 adult females, 1 sub adult female, 4 infants, and 1 juvenile.


Bweza gorilla family broke away from the larger habituated Nshongi group in August 2012. The group was first led by an aging silverback named Kakono who didn’t stay longer as a younger silverback took over. A 25-year old Rurehuka is the current dominant silverback of Bweza. The group consists of 14 individuals including 2 other silverbacks, 1 black back, 1 sub-adult male, 1 sub-adult female, 4 sub-adult females, 3 infants, and a juvenile. Home to three silverbacks, the Bweza gorilla family, is a must-see for those who love primates. Bweza group tends to feed along the park boundary, making for one of the easiest gorilla families to track.


Mishaya gorilla family was one of the first to split from the larger Nshongi group in 2010. Mishaya is the name of the silverback that led the group until 2014 when it died from an intestinal gut infection. Following its death, some of the members split up and joined other groups of Bikingi and Bweza. A few other individuals got lost before UWA rediscovered them in 2018. They were found with Tinfayo, a silverback that had left Nshongi with an adult female and her infant. The gorillas later joined together and formed the Mishaya group which currently consists of 9 individuals including 5 adult females, 2 infants, and a juvenile.


Bikyingi is one of the two gorilla families that are still undergoing habituation in Rushaga sector. The group consists of 12 members including 2 silverbacks, 5 adult females, 4 infants, and a juvenile. Kaharata the current dominant silverback was initially not part of the group. It came from somewhere else and found Bikyingi silverback that already leading its family. The two fought for dominance eventually Kaharata killed Bikyingi and took over leadership. Following the fatal incident, the group disintegrated with 7 of its members joining another habituated Kahunge gorilla family. A few days later, the rangers discovered Kaharata with a group of 9 members that form the Bikyingi gorilla family.

Gorilla families in Ruhija sector

Ruhija sector is located in south east along the highest altitude of Bwindi impenetrable national park. There are three gorilla families which include Bitukura, Oruzogo, and Kyaguriro. Gorilla trekking in Ruhija can be challenging due to the nature of terrain. However, the sector offers excellent bird watching with Albertine Rift Endemics such as African green broadbill and strange weaver.


Bitukura is among the gorilla families in Bwindi with a unique social structure. From the time of habituation in 2006, several silverbacks have been observed from time to time living in harmony with one another. The group currently consists of 13 individuals including 2 silverbacks of which the dominant one is known as Mugisha. Among other members of Bitukura include 2 black backs which are soon growing to become silverbacks, 1 sub-adult male, 4 adult females, 2 infants and 2 juveniles. Despite the fact that trekking gorillas in Ruhija can be challenging, the Bitukura group tends to forage in the area surrounding the briefing center and occasionally along the sector’s forest boundaries, which makes it easier to visit.


The habituation of Oruzogo gorilla family started in 2008. At the time, the group has 17 members including the silverback Kasimali, who broke away with 6 individuals. Oruzogo remained with 11 members which are led by a huge silverback named Kaganga. Gorillas feed on a variety of over 200 plant species including Alchomea hirtella, which is only eaten by Oruzogo gorillas and not by other gorilla families. This plant species is known as Oruzogo in local Runyankole-Rukiga language. The name of the group was derived from this plant species.


The Kyaguliro gorilla family is designated for scientific research study done by the Max Planc Institute. They’re studying the groups’ behavior ecology, a branch of ecology concerned with the relationship between an animal’s behavior and the conditions of its environment. The group consists of 6 individuals including silverback Kasoni, an infant and 4 black backs. According to the most recent report available on the International Gorilla Conservation Program website, no females have been documented in this group. The group has its home range in the deeper parts of Bwindi impenetrable national park. The females in Kyaguliro are said to have joined the Mukiza, which split from the Kyaguliro in 2016.


Mukiza gorilla family was formerly known as Kyaguliro B given that it split from the main Kyaguliro group. The group consists of 19 individuals including 1 silverback Mukiza, 1 sub-adult female, 8 adult females, 7 infants, and 2 juveniles. Just like Kyaguliro, Mukiza is also subject of the Max Planc Institute research and study purposes.

Nyakagezi gorilla family

Nyakagezi is the only habituated gorilla family in Mgahinga gorilla national park. The group is composed of 9 members including 4 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 infants, and 1 juvenile. The dominant silverback is known as Mark and the second silverback in line of command is called Ndugutse. The other two silverbacks submit. Being the only habituated group in the entire park, Nyakagezi has much a larger home range. According to IGCP latest update, the gorillas tend to move beyond the boundary of Mgahinga and go to the neighboring Volcanoes or Virunga national parks.

However, the UWA rangers in Mgahinga follow the gorillas observing their movements and social interactions. The truth is that Nyakagezi spends almost 99% of its time in Uganda. Gorilla trekking in Mgahinga is as reliable as it is in Bwindi forest. However, few people go there which means that the park has now crowds, sometimes; it might be you and the rangers visiting the gorillas. Mgahinga is also much easier to access than most sectors of Bwindi.

Naturally, gorillas are wild and shy creatures. The habituated gorilla families are those that have been fully accustomed to the presence of human beings. Gorillas are habituated to people through a long-term scientific research process called habitation. It can take 2-5 years during which a team of habituators, scientists, conservationists, and wildlife veterinary doctors approach a particular gorilla group in a calm and nonthreatening manner on a regular basis. The natural behaviors of the great apes are imitated such as walking on knuckles and chewing on vegetation continually until the gorillas loose the fear of humans. Usually, it’s the silverback that determines whether the group is ready for general tourist visits. The gorilla habitation experience offer visitors an opportunity to participate in the process only available in Rushaga sector of Bwindi impenetrable national park.