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Over half the mountain gorilla population of lives Uganda. According to the November 2012 census results released by the Uganda Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Mountain Gorilla population is on the increase. There is a minimum of 400 gorillas from the 302 of 2006 in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park alone and about over 80 in Mgahiga Gorilla National Park making 480 mountain gorillas in Uganda and a world total of 880 divided between the 3 African countries i.e. Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Apparently (2014), there is a total of 36 gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, however, only 11 of these are habituated and can be accessed by visitors. The other migratory group in Mgahinga Gorilla Park thats frequently moves between Uganda and the DRC and very unpredictable. Gorilla habituation is a process that takes 2 years. During this time gorillas get used human beings – they remain doing their routine activities in the wilderness even when human beings are present. According to the UWA conservation rules, only 8 adult visitors can be allowed to track each of the habituated gorilla group each day. That avails 88 gorilla tracking permits each day along with 8 for Mgahiga family.

Gorillas move to new places everyday and never stay in one place twice. There is nothing like closest or furthest gorilla family, trek terrain may be different but the time taken is unpredictable. A 2 or 3 hour trek today could be tomorrow’s 6 or 7 hours. Booking your preferred gorilla family is possible but has to be done through your preferred tour agency/operator ahead of time. – There is a whole list of legitimate ones from theAssociation of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) website.

Mubare Gorilla Family

Family size: 9 members including 1 silverback
Location: Buhoma
Mubare is the oldest habituated gorilla group in Uganda. It was found in the Mubare hills, deep in Bwindi forest, and was fully habituated in 1998. The group started with 12 family members, led by the dominant silverback “Ruhondeza”. In a few years the group grew to 18 individuals. Unfortunately, due to fights with other wild gorilla groups, it lost several members including the one Ruhondeza who used to take care of everyone esle in the party. The group remained 5 members for several years untill March 2013 when 4 other members including a new dominant silverback joined and its now an interesting group to visit. Due to its convenient location with the Queen Elizabeth Park and with limited tracking hike, Mubare gorilla permits are now priority for many tour operators and tourist.

Family size: 18 members including 2 silverbacks
Location: Buhoma
The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from a local word “Nyanja” which means ‘body of water’. It refers to the swamp in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where the group was first sighted. Habinyanja is a fascinating family with a lot of drama and commotion. This is caused by the power struggles between the dominant silverbacks and fights for the family leadership.

It’s not strange for such large families to split. – the split forms a new gorilla family and sometimes can be joined by  members rejected by other families or other solitary gorillas and even when they do, gorillas retain the brotherhood and don’t fight against former family members if they meet.Visitors tracking this family need about 3 – 8 hours and its makes sense if they stay at a lodging in the Buhoma area of Bwindi. The adult females are led by the shrewd alpha female called Kisho.

Rushegura Gorilla Family

Family size: 19 members including 1 silverback
Location: Buhoma
The Rushegura gorilla family was brought together in 2002, after one of the silverbacks from the Habinyanja group decided to break away. They started with 12 individuals including 5 females. This “Habinyanya 2 group” quickly received a new name, that derives from “Ebishegura” – a tree specie that was abundant in the home area of the new family. The Rushegura group is a calm family. In the past they used to cross the border and venture in the neighboring DRC every now and then but returned and have always been in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They are usually not far from Buhoma village and sometimes even wander through the gardens Gorilla Forest Camp.

Oruzogo Gorilla Family

Family size: 23 members including 1 silverback
Location: Ruhija Sector

The Oruzogo group one of the recent gorilla families opened for visitor access in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This family is situated between Ruhija area and is led by a dominant Silverback “Tibirikwata”. It’s the latest habituated gorilla family and was opened for tourism on 20th June 2011. This increased the great opportunity for more visitors to track the gorillas in Bwindi national park. It’s one of the most popular families with tourists not just because of the size but the playful and energetic juveniles and toddlers in the group.

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