Virunga National Park is home to a few of the left mountain gorillas in the wild world wide. This park is a number one stop for tourists where they get to see a number of mountain gorilla families while on gorilla trekking activities. The park has 8 habituated Mountain Gorilla Families Groups which include;
- Munyaga Gorilla Family
This gorilla family is one of the few habituated families in Virunga National Park therefore it’s not tracked at all by tourists. Members of this gorilla family usually interact with members of the Buhanga gorilla family which led to the splitting of members from Buhanga to Munyaga. The 2 silverbacks Mawazo and Kasole are brothers who came from the Buhanga gorilla group to the Munyaga gorilla group. The group got famous for having an individual with a bald head who is called Kadogo in the whole sector of Mikeno.
From 1998 to 2002, Munyaga family members were reduced from 12 to 6 due to conflicts among themselves as gorillas. The group is now led by a dominant silverback “Mawazo” who took over the group in 2010 and the gorilla family group has now 10 members in the family.
- Bageni Gorilla Family
This gorilla family is one of the biggest families in Virunga national park with 35 members in the family. The group is found in Gatovu sector and Bukima sector of Virunga which is also led by a silverback Bangeni who formed his group after splitting from the Kabirizi gorilla family. He left the Kabirizi gorilla family in 2013 and went with 8 females, a silverback Kanamahalagi and a sub-adult male called Ntamuvulira. The family has 18 births and it’s led by 3 silverbacks with a total number of 35 members in the group.
- Kabirizi Gorilla Family
This family is found in the Bukima sector close to the Goma sector in Virunga national park. Kabirizi gorilla family was habituated in 1994 and was led by Ndungutse a former dominant silverback who was shot dead in 1997 and was replaced by his father Zunguruka who later on died of old age too. A few years later, a silverback Kabirizi took over the throne to lead a family group and it now has a total of 21 individuals.
- Nyakamwe Gorilla Family
This gorilla family is also found in Virunga National park and it was habituated in 2014 as the Nyakamwe gorilla family. The silverback of this group is “Nyakamwe” who came from Rugendo Gorilla Family with his brother Humba and formed their own gorilla groups. From the year 2014 to 2020, this Gorilla Family has 14 individuals that include; 1 silverback Nyakamwe and 6 babies.
- Lulengo Gorilla Family
In 1994, the silverback of the family “Rugabo” and 2 other females were killed by poachers and a juvenile who was called “Mvuyekure” was kidnapped by the same people. The poachers intended to sell Mvuyekure to Uganda where they were arrested on arrival to Uganda. A few years later, the Lulengo family and the Mapuwa family started fighting among themselves which led to gorillas moving from the Lulengo family to find peace in the Mapuwa family.
Later on, in 2014, a female gorilla came from the Rugendo family to join the Lulengo family which brought another phase of the war between the two groups. The gorilla family currently has 11 members which includes; 1 silverback, 7 babies, and one adult female
- Mapuwa Gorilla Family
In 1995, Mapuwa and his brother Ruzirabwoba left their father “Rugendo’ who was the silverback of Rugendo family to form their own family groups. Mapuwa waited for over 4 years to get his own gorilla family where a few came from the Lulengo family where they had conflicts. He managed to win himself 2 adult females who helped in starting up a gorilla family.
Mapuwa approached the Kwitondo family and the Rugabo Family and asked them to join their group to make up a big number of Gorillas. The group now has over 22 members in the family with their dominant silverback Mapuwa who was later on overthrown by Mvuyekure who is now a silverback of the family group. Mapuwa returned as a sub-ordinate silverback when he came back from exile.
- Rugendo Gorilla Family
This was the first family to be habituated in the Jomba area in the park. This happened in 1984, 14 years later, the group had 18 members who later on split due to the fights their silverback Rugendo had with his son Humba. The group continued until the silverback Rugendo was killed by a rebel group in the Bukima area in the park. Currently, this group is led by a dominant silverback Senkwekwe the son of the late silverback Rugendo.
The silverback Senkwekwe was later on killed with some other few members in his group by the ranger intimidation. The group took some time before choosing another silverback with respect to the lives of gorillas that were lost in their family. The park decided to open up a gorilla orphanage center for such gorillas which was named after the group. The gorilla center is called “the Senkwekwe Orphanage Center“ to help gorillas recover from the loss of their loved ones.
In 2008, they later on got a silverback called Bukima who took over the group till now. And the group currently has 11 members including one silverback, 6 babies, and other gorillas.
- Humba Gorilla Family
This gorilla family was habituated at the end of the year 1998. The Humba Gorilla family split from the Rugendo gorilla family which was led by the father “Rugendo” who left with 6 individuals to start up his own family. From 1998 till 2009, the gorilla family group has 17 individuals that include; 1 silverback Humba and others. They managed to stay together and later split into two in 2014, the group stayed with 6 individuals then the brother “Nyakamwe” left with 9 individuals.
The group was joined by 1 adult female “Kakule” a year later who came with 1 adult male “Munyaga”. Currently, the group has 19 individuals with several births from 2014 till now with no registered silverback because they are still wondering who will take the throne between Humba and his son Mahundure