Virunga national park gorilla groups

Virunga national park gorilla groups : The Democratic Republic of Congo is known to have a wide variety of minerals, some of which are yet to be exploited. The recent addition to Congo’s treasures are her mountain gorillas that are found in Virunga National Park. The national park which happens to be the oldest national park and protected area in Africa, has eight habituated gorilla families/ groups that reside with the park and can be visited  on a Congo gorilla tour . These gorilla groups include;

Virunga national park gorilla groups
Gorilla Trekking in Congo
  1. Nyakamwe Gorilla Family.

Nyakamwe gorilla group is one of the recently habituated gorilla groups in Virunga. The group was habituated together with the Bageni group, which is apparently the largest gorilla group in Virunga national park. The Nyakamwe gorilla group consists of 11 members and is led by a dominant silverback called Nyakamwe. The silverback Nyakamwe is a brother to Humba, the dominant silverback of the Humba gorilla group. The group was formed in 2014 after it split from the Humba group, and can currently be found in the Bukima section of the national park.

  1. Rugendo Gorilla Group

The Rugendo gorilla family is among one of the oldest habituated gorilla groups in Virunga national park. This gorilla group currently has 9 members and was habituated in 1989. The group is led by a dominate silverback named Bukima, who took over the group’s leadership after the death of its lead silverback, Rugendo. Rugendo is remembered for fathering most of the silverbacks in Virunga, including Humba. In 1997, the group was originally composed of 18 members including two silverbacks, Rugendo and his son Humba. Later in 1998, Humba challenged his father in a duo and left with 10 members to form his current gorilla group which is now called Humba. The groups has undergone quite a number of changes in regards to new members joining the group such as its current dominate silverback Bukima, who is originally from the Buhanga gorilla family/group.

Virunga national park gorilla groups
Rugendo Gorilla Group
  1. Kabirizi Gorilla Family.

Visitors who wish to track this group can find it within the Bukima sector in Virunga national park, and it consists of about 19 members. This group was previously known as ‘Ndungutse’ after its former dominant silverback called Ndungutse. Unfortunately, he was killed in 1997 after being caught in a cross fire between the Congolese government and Rwandan rebel forces. Ndungutse took over the leadership of this groups after his father Zunguruka who died of old age. After the death of Ndungutse, a dominant silverback named ‘Kabirizi’ took over leadership of the group. He was a wild gorilla that was habituated in 1998, and is known to be powerful and yet humble gorilla. This gorilla group is named after the former Director of ICCN, who was killed in a fatal car accident. The dominate male gorilla (Kabirizi) is facing a lot of stiff competition from an ambitious silverback called Masibo. Visitors tracking this gorilla group start from Bukima Patrol Post.

  1. Mapuwa Gorilla Family

The Mapuwa gorilla family is strategically located in Jomba near Bunagana, Congo’s border with Uganda. The group derives its name from its former leader named ‘Mapuwa’ and consists of 22 members.  Mapuwa was fathered by Rugendo and the youngster left his father’s group in 1998 to start his own family, and took two females with him named Jicho and Mafaze. While still alive, Mapuwa successfully defended his family from both internal and external threats. He fought with a dominant silverback called ‘Pilipili’ in 2002 and stripped him of all his group members, thus remaining as a lone silverback. The Mapuwa gorilla group is currently being led by a dominate silverback named ‘Mvuyekure.’

Virunga national park gorilla groups
Mapuwa Gorilla Family
  1. Humba Gorilla Family.

The Humba gorilla family is led by a dominate silverback named Humba. The groups comprises 10 individuals and is situated within Gatovu and Bikenge sections of Virunga national park. Humba was separated from his father’s group in 1998 after he challenged his father. He is also a brother to Senkwekwe, who was killed in 2007 by unknown gunmen. By 2014, this gorilla group had 16 members but later split following a challenge between Humba and Nyakamwe, the current leader of the Nyakamwe gorilla group. The Humba family has received recent additions to the group such as Kakule, a female gorilla from the Munyaga group.

  1. Lulengo Gorilla Group.

This gorilla family is located in Jomba near Bunagana which is Congo’s border with Uganda. The groups currently has 9 members and is led by a dominate silverback called Lulengo. This gorilla group was previously known as Musekura before its name was later changed to Lulengo. Lulengo the current silverback took over the group following the death of his father Rugabo, who was killed by poachers. Lulengo was named after the former Technical Director of Virunga national park, who was killed by a land mine.

  1. Bageni Gorilla Group.

The Bageni gorilla group is currently the largest gorilla group in Virunga national park. This group was habituated at the same time as the Nyakamwe gorilla group. It currently consists of about 26 members and is led by a silverback named ‘Bageni.’ The group also consists of two other silverbacks named Kanamaharagi and Kitagenda, who are constantly challenging Bageni for the leadership position in the group. Both researchers and park guides fear that there might be a split in the group in the near future.

  1. Munyaga Gorilla Group.

The Munyaga gorilla group is famous among tourists because of one of its female gorillas named Bilali. She gave birth to a set of twins who later died at infancy. This group derives its name from one of its former leaders who was called Munyaga. After his death, a silverback named Mawazo took over leadership of the group. At present, this gorilla group is led by a dominate silverback gorilla named ‘Gasore.’ The Munyaga gorilla group consists of 7 members and was first habituated in 2008. The group is also famous for its bald headed silverback named ‘Kadogo.’

Visitors who wish to trek gorillas in Virunga national park in Congo, have to pay USD 400 dollars per person for a gorilla trekking permit. Security of visitors in the national park is guaranteed with armed security officials accompanying visitors to and from the national park in Goma.

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