Habinyanja group of gorillas is among the three habituated gorilla families that can be trekked from Buhoma. To reach the starting point, you sometimes need to drive for 45 minutes towards the neck or 30 minutes to reach the trail head at Nyamishaba village.
Habinyanja Gorilla Family was habituated in 1997 and the first group of tourists tracked this gorilla family in 1999. Habinyanja Group derives its name from a Rukiga word “Nyanja” which means “ a place with water”. The reason is that, it was first seen near swamp ponds in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Prominent members of Habinyanja family are, Makara, Rwansigazi, Maraya, Kisho, Nabukye, Binyonko, Rugyendi, Nyamuhango, Elsa, Hamusini, Hakato, Gacyaro and Bangenyi.
This gorilla group is characterized of power struggles, intrigues with in the group coupled with members who are willing to promote self interest at the risk of group interests. This has in turn resulted into dramatic actions overtime.
At the time of habituation, Mugurisi which is means “Old man” in Rikiga was the dominant silverback amidst his old age. The most interesting part of this was that at the time of habituation, Mugirisi was commanding a big group of 30 members which is quite big compared to other families whether habituated or not habituated. As time went by, Mugurisi had to pass away because of old age. This later caused succession disputes as the siblings were fighting for leadership of the family. This was because at the time of Mugurusi’s death, the family had four silverbacks waiting in the cue of who would succeed their father. These silver backs were Rwansigazi which means “The youthful boy”, Mwirima which means “darkness” and then Makara “Charcoal”.
Intially, Rwansigazi was supposed to succeed Mukurisi but because at the time of his death Mwirima had equally grown stronger and thus wanted to challenge for family leadership. For several years, Rwansigazi and Mwirima shared power after their fathers death but as time went on, something had to happen.
It should be noted that while the family remained as a unit under the leadership of these two brothers, tine came when incompatible differences among the two brothers were soon or later to cause separation of this once big family. Rwanzigazi was adventurous and liked travelling for long distance while Mwirima who like his dad Mugurisi preferred a small range.
History has it that because of the differences, these two silverbacks decided to separate and make two gorilla families depending on the interest of the members. In 2002, the family had to separate and those members that preferred adventure followed Rwansigazi while those who preferred a small range remained with Mwirima. No fights were report at the time of separation. The group that stayed with Rwansigazi maintained the name Habinyanja while the one that left came to be known as Rushegura.