Gorilla Families in Rwanda | Volcanoes National Park
There are about twelve families living in the Volcanoes National Park Rwanda that are fully habituated and available for visits by the public (whilst others are habituated for scientific research purposes only). Each family consists of at least one Silverback (but sometimes as many as four), along with several females and a group of youngsters.
Gorilla Families in Rwanda; Susa, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Agashya, Kwitonda, Umubano, Kwisanga, Noheli, Hirwa, Bwenge, Karisimbi, Igisha, Muhoza & Isimbi – Here is a highlight of each of the groups;
- Susa was formed in 1974 with initially 7 individuals and is one of those groups that were studied by dian fossey between 1968/1985. the group took the name susa from the known water stream susa.
- In 2009, susa family started the splitting process which resulted into four separate families today SUSA ,KARISIMBI,ISIMBI,IGISHA.
- Today susa group is composedof 19 individuals (led by the dominant silerback Impuzamahanga)including 3 silverbacks ,5 adult females ,3 blackbacks ,2 subadults, 3 juveniles and 3 inftants.
- The four subgroups of former susa family range on the slopes of karisimbi volcanoe dminatedby bamboo vegetation .however the group is well used to mixing the bamboo zone during the bambo shoot seasonand the higher altitude zone of hagenia and hypericum dominated by mixed herbaceous vegetation.
The group is usually considered as medium to too hard to reach for the daily tourism use
This group consists of 17 members. Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the powerful silverback Guhonda.
This group is led by the silverback Gihishwamwotsi who officiality took over from his
- Father Guhonda after the leter left the group in January 2020.
- The transfer of group dominance from the prolific silverback Guhonda to his son took more than 3years with father increasing the distance from center of the group slowly and step by step until he left with three gorillas ,ncluding his lon term female gukunda .
- Sabyinyo group is one of the groups closest to the parks egde ,and the situation has led to the group developing behaviour of moving outside the park in community farms of bamboo and eucalyptus.
- This grop is considered from easy to medium accesiible for the daily tpurism use.
The Amahoro gorilla family consists of 19 gorillas, led by the calm and easy going Ubumwe. To reach Amahoro, it’s usually a fairly steep climb but it is well worth it!
- The habituation of amahorofamily by gorilla trackers started in 1995 and became fully habituated in 2001-2002.
- After the dominant silverbacks death in 2002, the group split into 2 groups the one led by Ubumwe kept its original name Amahoro while the second led by the young silverback charles took a new name Umubbano.
- Amahoro means peace , the name fits well as the silverback is so peacefull and tolerant to other 3 young silverbacks ,contributing to the unity of the family .
- This group ranges on the easyern fank of bisoke volcano and often crosses the border to DRC
- Today amahoro roup is made up of 21 individuals including 4 silverbacks ,8 adult females,3sub-adults ,2 black backs ,5 juveniles ,and 7 infants
- This group is considered from easy to medium accessible for the daily tourism .
This group was habituated in 1980s as group 13.
- Agashya group is led by dominant silverback isano wo took over his group in may 2021 from his father agashya who walked away after several months of ranging at the periphery of the group.
- Agashye meaning making news or special indeed made news not only by taking over the power from nyakarima but also by bringing together two families and making one groupin 2002
- Agashya group ranges on the flank along the valley between sabyinyo and Bisoke volcanoes.
- Currently, agasha group is composed of 19 individuals, including 2 silver backs, 5 adult females,1 black backs ,3 sub adults ,4 juveniles and 4 infants/.the group is considered from easy to medium accessible for the daily tourism use.
Kwitonda has been in Rwanda since 2004 ,but was originally habituated and monitored in the DRC side. Since 2004,the group that the park initially thought was naturally crossing on Rwanda side for a sort while has settled permanently.
Kwitonda (the dominant silverback ) died in 2012 due to old age and left akarevuro and kigoma both suboedinate silverbacks fighting for leadership of the group. Somehow akarevuro on the respect of the group members and took full leadership of the group until may 2021.
In May 2021,kwitonda group split into 2 groups with keeping 20 gorillas and Kigoma taking 20 an unusual peaceful splitting. Kwitonda family remained with 2 silverbacks ,8 adult females ,2 black backs ,3 juveniles and 4 infants .
The group is considered from easy to medium accessible for the daily tourism use .
Umubano is a family of 13, who broke off from Amahoro with their leader, Charles.
- Umubano group is a brother group of amahoro , formed after the death of amahoro dominate silverback in 2002.
- The group was renamed in 2005 umubano meaning togetherness andcoo peration the name was proposed in recognition of cooperation and collaboration needed to ensure sustainable conservation of gorillas. the people and couties should recognize that fact and set up long lasting mechanisms for regional cooperation to ensure gorillas sustainable protection and conservation
- Umubano group ranges on the eastern flank of Bisoke volcano towards the valley linking Bisoke and Sabyinyo volcanoes
- Umubano group is composed of 14 individuals including 8 silvarbacks 2 adult females 1blak back 2 sub adult and 1 infant
- Umubano family is one of the group closest to the parks edge and the situation has led to the groups theveloping the behaviour of moving outside the park in community farms of bamboo and eucalyptus.
- The group is considered from easy to medium accible for the daily tourism use
Kwisanga is one of the newest gorilla groups in Volcanoes National park. The group is led by Kigoma who left the Kwitonda group with 16 members.
Noheli is composed of 7 individuals led by dominant silverback Noheli. It is the newest and smallest habituated group at Volcanoes national park. The group was formed in 2021 when three females left Isimbi and Susa to join the lone silverback, Noheli.
This group has 18 members and was only fairly recently formed from former Group 13 and Sabyinyo family members. They are led by Munyinya.
Hirwa group was first located in the park on 25th june 2005 by a park guide while tracking sabyinyo group with 8 members.
- After identfication ,the dominant male was comfirmed by the monitoring team to be the same silverback munyinyat hat left susa group in 2002 after a poaching incident that cost life of four gorllas of his family.
- In august 2019,hirwa family croseed to uganda side of the virunga massif and returned in april 2020 .during that period in ugandas mgahinga gorilla national park the family lost 7 individuals ,including 4 who died of a suspected lightning shock. The dominant silverback was also among the dead gorillas as the family returned with the silverback uburanga leading.
- Hirwa group ranges on the flank of sabyinyo volcano
- The group increased to the current number of 13 gorillas made of silverback ,2 adult females ,2 black backs ,4 subadults ,1 juvenile and 3 infants .
- The group is considered from easy to medium accessible for the daily tourism use
The Bwenge gorilla family comprises 11 members led by Bwenge. To trek Bwenge, one needs to take on Karisoke slopes with the assistance of a guide.
Karisimbi group was formed as a new group after splitting from susa group in 2009.the separation process became permanent in august 20thhh, 2009,after two months of splitting attempts characterized by leaving for some days and returning temporarily.
- The group is led by Nyagaangaga ,who was the second in dominance to silverback of susa group since 2007(after death of Ukwakane silverback ). The new family took the name karisimbi after the highestvolvanoe of the Virunga massif (4507m) where they ranged.
- Tensions among the silverbacks of the newly formed group especially nyagakanga ,kampade ,and getty resulted in the formation of another group from karisimbi and that gruop was named isimbi.
- Karisimbi is composed of 10 individuals ,including 6 silverbacks ,1 adult female 1 blackback ,1 subadult female and 1 juvenile.
- Karisimbi has recently become a cross border group ranging between volcanoes national park and mikeno sector on Virunga NP on DRC side .given his movements ,the group is not reliable for the daily tourism use.
The Igisha group consists of 34 members under the leadership of Igisha. The group was formed in 2014, from the originally Susa B. Igisha is one of the biggest gorilla groups at Volcanoes National Park.
- Igisha group is the latest family (formed november 30th 2014 ) of former susa group members . it is led by igisha as the dominant silverback.
- Igisha silverback moved with 23 individuals and formed the group that was later named igisha after him.
- Igisha family ranges on the western slope of karisimbi volvanoe dominated by bamboo vegetation . however , the group is well used to mixing the bamboo zone during the bamboo shoot season and the higher altitude zone of hagenia and hypericum dominated by mixed herbaceous vegetation.
- Igisha group is currently composed of 33 individuas who include 1 dominant silverback ,4 silverbacks ,10 adult femals ,1 blackback, 5 subadults ,4 juveniles and 8 infants .
- The group is usually considered as medium to to hard to rech for daily tourism use.
Muhoza was formed in 2015.
- The dominant silverback Marambo left his natal group Kwitonda in October 2014 and had been wandering as alone silverback for about one year.
- Marambo formed the group in September 2015 with 2 females he grabbed from Agashya family and one from hirwa family .he continues to have to initiate interactions with other groups in order to get more females.
- Muhoza group ranges on the flank of Sabyinyo volcano ,towards the valley between Sabyinyo and Bisoke volcanoes.
- This group is currently composed of 19 gorillas including 1 silverback,8 adult females,1 subadult, 2 juveniles and 7 infants.
Isimb group is led by the dominant silverback Muturengere .Isimbi group was formed as result of karisimbi group splitting which took place on 10th,april,2012.
- Muturengere took lead of the group after the death of getty silerback.in December 2013.he was helped by influential female poppy who latter left the group.
- Isimbi family ranges on the western slope of karisimbi volcanoe dominated by the bamboo vegetation .however ,the group i well used to mixing the bamboo zone during the bamboo shoot season and the higher altitude zone of hagenia and hypericum dominated by mixe herbaceous vegetation.
- The group is currently composed of 16 individuals, who include 1 silverback , 4 adult females , 4 sub adult females ,3 juveniles and 4 infants .
The group is usually considered as medium to too hard to reach for the daily tourism use.