Mountain Gorilla Families in Congo
Mountain Gorilla families in Congo are inhabited in the Virunga National Park, the country’s true African gem which inhabits some of the last endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. Virunga National Park is an iconic attraction itself for it has really stunning lush beauty, and is one of Africa’s oldest national parks. There are currently eight fully habituated mountain gorilla families in Congo that tourists can track while on a gorilla trekking safari in Virunga National Park. The families include Kabirizi, Humba, Rugendo, Mapuwa, Lulengo, Munyaga, Nyakamwe and Bageni.
Each of these gorilla families are unique in character and live in different parts of the park, with varying dominant silverbacks. Upon purchase of one’s gorilla permit which in Congo is at $400 only, tourists are placed in groups of eight on the day of the trek and allocated gorilla families to track. tourists are allocated gorilla families according to one’s fitness levels and availability. Below are the 8 gorilla families that can be tracked in Virunga National Park;
Kabirizi gorilla family
- Is currently under the leadership of Kabirizi, a powerful and humble silverback
- The family is named in memory of Director of the Congolese Institute of Conservation of Nature who died in a road accident
- Was previously named Ndungutse, after the dominant silverback then that was killed in a crossfire between the government soldiers and the rebels.
- Currently has 19 members
- The family is found in Bukima.
- Kabirizi, the dominant silverback, is currently facing stiff competition from another silverback called Masibo
Humba gorilla family
- Also located in Bukima sector of the park
- Was named after the family’s dominant silverback Humba
- Humba is the son of the late Rugendo who he was separated from in 1998, and is also a brother to Senkwekwe, who was killed in 2007 by gunmen.
- The family is one of the calmest in Virunga National park and many tourists prefer tracking it particularly
- The gorilla family had up to 16 members in 2014 but due to a breakup, only 6 members remained though the number has since grown majorly due to births.
Rugendo gorilla family
- The family was named after its then leader, Rugendo, who was killed.
- This is one of the oldest gorilla families that was habituated in 1989
- Rugendo gorilla family currently has 9 members with 3 silverbacks, 1 black back, 1 adult female, 2 sub-adult females and 2 infants.
- Currently has Bukima as the dominant silverback
- This gorilla family can be found in Mikeno sector, between Bukima and Bikenge.
Mapuwa gorilla family
- This gorilla family is found in Jomba, near the Congo-Uganda border of Bunagana
- Mapuwa broke away from his father’s family with only 2 adult females but over the years, he conquered more individuals, say when he stripped Pilipili of all his members and left him alone silverback. The many births in the family also has the number of members increasing.
- The family currently has 22 members.
Lulengo gorilla family
- Was previously called Musekura.
- Was named Lulengo in memory of the Technical Director of Virunga National Park who was killed by a landmine.
- The family has 9 members with Lulengo as the dominant silverback
- This family also lives in the Jomba area near the Congo-Uganda border of Bunagana
Munyaga gorilla family
- The family is located in Bukima sector of Virunga National Park
- The family is most known for its twin mother Bilali, whose twins, however, died in infancy
- The bold headed silverback called Kadogo is also an interesting sight in this family
- Gasore is the current dominant silverback of this family, who however faces challenges from other silverbacks
Nyakamwe gorilla family
- This is one of the newly habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park
- The gorilla family has 11 members
- The dominant silverback is called Nyakamwe
Bageni gorilla family
- This is another of the recently habituated mountain gorilla families in Congo
- This gorilla family currently has the highest number of members-26 in total
- Currently has Bageni as the dominant silverback
- 2 silverbacks-Kanamaharagi and Kitagenda are currently interested in the top most position, a break off is soon expected as is with very large families.
Mountain gorilla families in Congo that are habituated for gorilla trekking in Virunga National Park are surely bound to grow in number with the combined efforts of the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the conservation agencies and NGOs that have the conservation of mountain gorillas as a topmost priority. Despite the on and off volatile situation in the Congo, the country is currently stable and tourist activities mostly in Virunga National Park are ongoing. Be assured of protection while on a Congo safari at all times, only make sure to book your trip with trusted tour operators in the region.