Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bwindi Habituates 2 more gorilla families for Tourism

Two new groups of mountain gorillas are being habituated for tourism and research in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

The groups, named Bushaho and Bikingi, are named for their home ranges and contain some individuals from previously habituated groups. Both groups are led by former Nkuringo group silverbacks, Bahati and Bikingi.

There are 8 babies between these two groups (6 in Bikingi and 2 in Bushaho)! The groups are being habituated for tourism, yes.

Habituation allows veterinarians to visit the groups regularly and closely monitor them for any sign of illness or injury - and intervene to save a life when it is necessary. It also allows the rangers to monitor the group on a daily basis - and for instance, report a gorilla who has become caught in a poacher's snare so that veterinarians can intervene and administer the necessary treatment immediately.

When combined with the estimated 480 gorillas inhabiting the Virunga Volcanoes to the south (the only other location where mountain gorillas exist) , the world’s population of mountain gorilla now stands at 880. The mountain gorillas of Bwindi and the Virungas are the only gorilla populations known to be increasing; all other populations are thought to be in decline due to hunting and habitat loss.

The rise in mountain gorilla populations also indicates the success of a continued collaboration between the Uganda Wildlife Authority with the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB); the Virunga Mountains lie on the borders of three countries, requiring the participation of agencies from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda for effective monitoring and enforcement. Bwindi, however, is located in Uganda, but in the spirit of regional collaboration, the ICCN and RDB sent support teams for the 2011 Bwindi census effort.

Although far fewer in number than their western relatives, mountain gorillas have had a profound effect on both the public and the naturalists who have encountered them. While collecting specimens in Africa for the American Museum of Natural History in the early 20th Century, U.S. explorer Carl Akeley became concerned about the future of the mountain gorilla, helping to establish Africa’s first national park—now Virunga National Park—in 1925 to protect the gorillas.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

New Mountain Gorillas Census set for September 2015

A new census for Mountain Gorillas is set for September 2015 in the Great Virunga Massif is set for September, 2015, the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaboration- GVTC has said.
The massif includes Uganda's Bwindi and Mgahinga National Park, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.

The last mountain gorillas census was conducted in September 2011 and its results indicated a 3.2% increase in gorilla population (to a total of about 880 in the wild) in the Greater Virunga the previous ones  having been conducted in 2006, 2002 and 1997. All other censuses before have taken place in a duration spacing of five years apart.

This census is aimed at estimating the current gorilla numbers of Uganda’s BINP, document information on illegal activities, the gorillas distribution and compile information on other mammals in the ecosystem.

The organizations involved in the planning and eventual implementation of the activity include Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Greater Virunga Trans boundary Collaborative Secretariat (GTVCS), the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, the Rwanda Development Board, local governments and the International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Conservation Through Public Health, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund – International and us, the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation.

James Byamukama, the Programme Manager at GVTC says the exercise, which should have started earlier, was delayed by the insecurity in DR Congo.  He however adds that they are set to conduct the census in September starting in Virunga National Park.
Byamukama says with the census, the collaboration will be able to plan for future conservation efforts and the emerging trends of threats to gorilla population. Periodic censuses of endangered populations of high-profile species including gorillas help conservationists to understand their population dynamics assess the success of conservation programmes aimed at ensuring their survival

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, and to ensure that they receive continued attention from the global conservation community.

The method of use in this census will be the sweep method as well as fecal samples collected for generic analysis.  In the sweep method, teams traverse each marked sector of the park in a zigzag manner. They look for fresh gorilla trails till their nests are found and counted.  The estimates are made based on nests encountered in the due course of the census. The estimates are made based on nests encountered in the due course of the census. In great apes mammals, research has proven that the sweeping has been the most efficient method to date unlike the transect,experts assert.
In a preparatory census meeting of the stakeholders recently in Kabale, UWA’s Senior Monitoring and Research co-coordinator, Mr. Aggrey Rwesiba stated how important this exercise is to Uganda Wildlife Authority. He noted that the census provided vital information for establishing best management strategies that could be applied at both local and global scales to conserve the mountain Gorilla population. He accordingly  stressed that the census was an important index for the different stakeholders on the effectiveness of their work towards conserving the mountain gorillas.

Unlike other censuses done before in Bwindi, generic analysis where the fecal samples will be analyzed to minimize error and ascertain more accurate figures of the gorillas. It is estimated that a distance of not less than 600km will be covered by various teams to be involved in the census around the entire. Many staff from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has already committed themselves to be part of this historical event of counting gorillas and preparation are in a high notch. The vegetation and terrain of Bwindi forest make it uniquely different from that Virungas. This makes the census more challenging as well as exciting, something to look forward to. 
The Conservation Area Manager of Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area, Mr. Pontius Ezuma has committed resources such as standby vehicles for the field teams and security all through the census exercise. In his own admission, he expects a rigorous time ahead thus the need to adequately prepare since the exercise has to be accommodated with many routine activities in park.
In the census carried out in Bwindi population in was carried out in 2002,  results showed that the population had increased since the previous census in 1997 by approximately 7%, to 320 individuals according to McNeilage and others 2006 while the Virunga population currently numbers around 380 gorillas . Another census of the Bwindi gorilla population was carried out between April and June 2006 to determine the population's total size and structure, its distribution across Bwindi, and the potential impact of human disturbance on the population.
The results at the time showed show that the 5 habituated groups in Bwindi contained a total of 76 individuals at the time of the census. In addition to these, 25 unhabituated groups were found, containing 227 individuals along with 11 lone silverback males, giving a total uncorrected population count of 314 individuals.

Though gorillas have few natural predators, they are endangered due to the loss of habitat and forest clearing. They also fall victim to hunting for the wildlife trade, and through accidental snaring by poachers who are targeting antelopes for meat. Diseases that affect humans also pose a threat to apes and can spread quickly in such small populations.

Friday, July 24, 2015

British Airways suspends Heathrow–Entebbe route flights

British Airways (BA) final flights to and from Entebbe airport to London Heathrow will be on October 2 and October 3, 2015 respectively as the company suspends all its services.

BA says after a review of its flight schedules, Heathrow-Entebbe route was not considered commercially viable.

british-airways-entebbe-london-heathrow-flights-suspended-2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Comparing Gorilla Trekking Tours In 2015 : Uganda Vs Rwanda – Compare prices, tracking experience, hardness,etc

Comparison of 2015 Gorilla Tracking in Uganda and Uganda – Which is the best place to do a gorilla trek – Uganda or Rwanda? Which is more viable or cheaper: Bwindi or Volcanoes National Park, Which is more easy to access, Is tracking Rwanda better than Uganda?
 
 
rwanda mountain gorillasCall it gorilla trekking or tracking or whatever, but it’s one of those really thrilling, lifetime experiences you should take time for before you leave planet earth. 
The exhilaration attached to the first setting eyes on a wild mountain gorilla is difficult to describe. Yet in the same sense, that magical one hour spent with the gorillas does not come cheaply considering that a permit goes for US$750 in Rwanda and $600 in Uganda – but it is unusual to find someone who regretted the financial outlay.
 
Mountain gorillas live in families similar to those of humans. Although the current mountain gorilla population is about 840, gorilla tracking can only be done on the habituated mountain gorilla families. 10 of the habituated families live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes NP, another 1 on in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable NP, 1 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and 1 in D.R.Congo’s Virunga NP.
A maximum of 8 persons can visit a given gorilla family per day.
 
All else being equal, Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park has a slight edge over the rest because its gorillas are the most wholly habituated, and they are often found in bamboo than the dense forest which makes photographing easier.

The major challenge with tracking gorillas in Rwanda is certainly the price of the gorilla permit at US$750 compared to Uganda’s US$600 per permit. However, Rwanda’s pride is in the ability for one to do the gorilla trek even in one day and fly back home which is impossible for Uganda. Volcanoes National Park is located 116 km from Kigali and can be driven in just 2 hours. On the other hand, Bwindi is located 500 km from Kampala/ Entebbe Airport and a drive can take 8 hours plus. In that sense, you will spend at least 3 days for your gorilla trek tour – one travelling to Bwindi, another doing the gorilla trek, and the other driving back to Kampala/Entebbe. If a tour operator is making you a tour package, they shall definitely have to consider this cost and include it in your tour cost.
With the on coming of daily scheduled flights to Bwindi, operators now can have 3 days flying packages to  Bwindi.
In real practice though, the one-day gorilla trek tour is not recommended because of the pressure it exerts on the trekker. For those limited on time, we would suggest the 2-days gorillas package.
 
 
However, the long drive to Bwindi is quite enchanting with great sceneries all through like the Equator, Lake Mburo National Park ( for some Queen Elizabeth National Park with abundant wildlife), terraced mountains with flowing rivers, and a lot of rural Africa. This is not so really the case for the drive from Kigali to Volcanoes National Park.
 
You will certainly need spend more on transport and time to track the mountain gorillas in Uganda than it’s for Rwanda although this cost is compensated for by a cheaper gorilla permit.
 
Besides, some sections of the roads to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are not so comfortable to drive on yet in the case of Rwanda, you drive on smooth tarmac at least up to the Volcanoes National Park head office. Not to mention though, the roads leading from Volcanoes park office to the gorilla trek trail-heads can only be accessed with a raised 4x4 vehicle.
 
 
Comparison of The Gorilla Trekking ExperienceA tree climbing lion perched in a fig in Queen Elizabeth Natonal Park along the way to Bwindi
Rwanda-SACOLA-traditional-dancers-perfom-before-gorilla-trackingIn general, the experience can only be different due to the way a particular gorilla family behaves in front of the trackers, how long and tough one has to track before reaching the gorillas and the way the park staff conduct the exercise. Personally, I found the Rwanda gorilla tracking package more charming that the Ugandan one on the tracking day. Should we say that this’ because of the gorilla permit price difference? Anyways, on your gorilla tracking day in Rwanda, you will definitely get more than that. At about 7:00 AM, tea/ coffee dispensers with cups are laid for visitors going for the trek. You are free to take as much as you wish. As visitors are enjoying the tea/ coffee, they are entertained by the lively traditional dance troupe (SACOLA Traditional Dancers) who bring on a wholesome Rwanda traditional cultural experience all visitors enjoy.

Of course you can get this in Uganda in evenings (at a fee) from the various traditional cultural groups that are near the park. However, the drive from Kampala to Bwindi is a very fabulous one traversing at least another national park (either Kibale or Queen Elizabeth National Park famous for tree climbing lions and many other big mammals, or Lake Mburo National Park) and not to miss- the Equator. In a way, even before you arrive Bwindi you have had a bit of the ‘Pearl of Africa’ as is fondly known. To many, driving along paved eucalyptus avenues to the gorillas in not the best deal. Indeed many to purchase tour packages combining both Rwanda and Uganda, first doing Gorillas in Rwanda and then crossing to Uganda to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park for the BIG 5 safaris and chimpanzee tracking among other tours.
 
Lets compare the tour costs in general.
Because of the long drive one endures from Kampala to Bwindi, the general cost is increased (even when you travel by public buses). It even increases more because you have to travel 2 days (to and from Bwindi). However, the increased cost is countered by the low cost gorilla permit of US$600 ($350 in April and May, November 2015). A low budget 3 days gorilla trek tour in Uganda goes for about $1250 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport). The two days Rwanda gorilla trek costs about $1220 ( with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) and a three days Rwanda gorilla tracking tour costs is about $1280 (with gorilla permit, accommodation, and transport) . Costs samples got from Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris website effective Jan 2015.
 
Other things in addition to the actual gorilla tracking
Lastly, if you are not travelling just to see the mountain gorilla, and you want to include other activities in your visit, Rwanda may not be the best choice. Many tourists have continually had to cross to Uganda after their Rwanda gorilla trek to tour other reserves like Queen Elizabeth National Parks so endowed with abundant wildlife one cannot see in Rwanda. This is why probably folks continue enduring the long drives to Bwindi yet there is an easy way out.
 
At the end of the day – the ultimate jury are those who are looking as to which country to visit in order to track Gorillas – it is not Rwanda, not Uganda, not the Democratic Republic of Congo but where their pockets and hearts choose. If you precisely want the mountain gorillas and nothing else, go for a one-day gorilla trek but if you are a one who wants it and all of it, go for the long drive – you won’t regret…

Have you been on a gorilla trek in Rwanda or Uganda? What was your experience? What have you had about tracking gorillas in Rwanda Vs Uganda? Let me hear you views.
Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $350
Mountain Gorillas Aside, Why Does Earth need Bwindi so badly?
Bwindi Mountain gorilla with baby gorilla - Ugana
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

When is the Best time for gorilla trekking/ tracking in Rwanda and Uganda?

When is the best time to visit/ track or trek the gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda? Which months should one try to avoid, which months are the best for gorilla trekking?
rwanda uganda gorilla bwindi tracking trek tour
While tracking or trekking mountain gorillas can be done any time of the year in either countries where (mountain gorillas are found i.e Rwanda and Uganda), because of the relatively wetter/ rainy seasons in the mountain gorilla inhabited national parks, many tourists often prefer the months from June to September and then December, January and February.
In Rwanda, the first rains start coming in late February through March, April and May and so many tourists try to avoid these months for fear of getting muddy and all wet while tracking the gorillas. However, during these months, because of the rains there's plenty of gorilla food down slope and it's much colder on the upper slopes. So the mountain gorillas keep on the lower slopes where they find it warmer and get food easily. So if you track the gorillas during these months, most likely your trek won't be a long one - many trackers find the gorillas after 2 hours hike and by 2PM are back.
The same applies to Uganda although the rains there come in March, April and May. Of course the  Undeniably the rains (not always heavy though) make it rather harder to trek the steep terrains. Even then, the rain only comes for like 1-2 hours in like every 2-3 days and the sun comes out. We have noticed that even in the so-called drier months, the rain will often come in.

This seasonality of gorilla trackers can also be attributed to the weather seasons in the visitors’ home country and the nature of their jobs. When it summer for example in Europe, numbers of gorilla trek visitors increase and the gorilla trackers numbers dip when it’s winter.
However, there are other gorilla trekkers who often take advantage of the seasonal discounts on mountain gorilla tracking permits. Recently for example, the Uganda Wildlife Authority discounted the gorilla permits by 30% for non-resident foreigners. A gorilla permit in Uganda costs $350 for the months of  November 2015. The rest of time it is at 600$ . Several accommodation and lodging facilities in mountain gorilla inhabited areas will also make discounts on their rates during these same months.


Whatsoever the case and explanation may be, experience shows that mountain gorilla trekking can be done any time of the year and you will most likely get the same the same experience.
 

Mountain Gorilla Trekking Tour Packages in Rwanda and Uganda
3 days Uganda Gorilla tour
4 days Chimps and Gorilla Tour  -
3 day Gorilla tracking Rwanda with tour price
5 days Uganda Gorillas and Queen Elizabeth Wildlife Safari
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
 
5 days Rwanda, Uganda Gorillas
 
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari
14 days Uganda Rwanda Safari
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari

7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife -


Related articles:
Uganda Cuts Gorilla Trek Permit Prices to $350

Bwenge Family – A mountain gorilla group in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

13 Group (aka Agasha Group) Gorilla Family in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park

Karisimbi Gorilla Family (Susa-B gorilla group) of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Sabyinyo Gorilla Group–A mountain gorilla family from Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Amahoro Gorilla Group – A mountain gorilla family of Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Kwitonda Family–A mountain gorilla group in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Susa Group (Susa A Family) - Volcanoes National Park Rwanda

Who Needs and How to Apply for Rwanda Visa– Tourist Visa Entry Requirements

All you need to know about Golden Monkey Tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda
















Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Planning a gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – How to plan your 2015 gorilla tracking program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour.

Planning a perfect 2015 gorilla trek in Uganda, what to consider – planning your program, transport to Bwindi, accommodation, how to book the gorilla permits, cost of the gorilla tour, booking gorilla permits for 2015.

In Uganda, Gorilla tracking can only either be done in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. However, the mountain gorilla family in Mgahinga (Kahungye group) is very mobile crisscrossing borders into Rwanda and this literary leaves Bwindi to be the only place to reliably track the mountain gorillas in Uganda.

Mountain Gorilla Resting in Bwindi Impenetrable National ParkTo track gorillas you must have a pre-booked gorilla tracking permit (each costs US$600 but are specially discounted in November 2015 to $350) . Since the gorilla parks are located far away from the airport you arrive from you will need transport (4x4 advisable) to reach the park. The drive from Kampala/ Entebbe to Bwindi takes about 9 hours. This means that if you are tracking gorillas in Uganda you will need at least 3 days to the gorilla trek: One day travelling to the park, another day tracking the gorilla, and the third day driving back to Kampala/ Entebbe.

To book your gorilla permit, you will need to either contact the relevant country agency to book the gorilla permit (Uganda Wildlife Authority for Uganda) or book the permits through a local tour agency like us. Please note that gorilla permits are only confirmed by paying for them in full. So, you will need to send money for the permits in full to get your confirmation ad ensure that you take care of the bank charges involved to avoid disappointment.

If you are hoping to travel in July and August 2015, be aware that most days are actually sold out and you may not be able to get the gorilla permit for the days period you wish to travel. There are however some gorilla permits cancellations. These permits are not at the Uganda Wildlife Authority but with local tour agents. We can assist our clients to get such permits when contacted.

However, for the rest of  2015, there are still plenty of spaces so you can confidently contact us now to book your space there.

If you arrange the gorilla permit on your own, please ensure that you pick it from the booking office in Kampala before travelling to Bwindi. You must present your gorilla permit and passport on the gorilla tracking day to be allowed on the gorilla trek. In case your permit is booked through a tour agent and you are taking the tour with them you may not necessarily need to think about getting the permit from them but if you are not taking the full gorilla tour with them, consider getting your permit before travelling to Bwindi.

Planning your Transport to the Gorilla Trek in Rwanda and Uganda:

You will definitely require a 4x4 vehicle to go to the gorilla in Bwindi. You need a 4x4 vehicle to navigate the rough pot-holed roads which often get tourists stuck for hours during rainy seasons. You may be able to hire a vehicle for US$100 per day excluding the fuel but including the driver costs. In Uganda’s case, Gorillas and Wildlife Safaris offers transfers for US$510 for the 3 days (including vehicle, fuel, driver allowances for 3 days tour).
Alternatively you may take public buses to a nearby town but you will definitely have to find a cab (preferably 4x4 and usually costs $100 a day without gas fuel) to ferry you to the gorilla trek trail start an back to your hotel.

You need to report to the park registration office at 7:30AM. So whatever method you choose, make sure that it is reliable  - if you don’t turn up at the appointed time you risk invalidating your gorilla tracking permit and having to pay again.

The gorilla tracking time is very unpredictable and you may as well take the entire day. So have your accommodation booked for the night after your trek as well. For this same reason also have with you a packed lunch for the day, plenty of drinking water, rainproof clothing (you are trekking through a rainforest and any day it can rain).

Planning Your Accommodation during your Gorilla Trek tour

In Uganda, the accommodation you choose will depend on the gorilla permit you book being that the available 11 gorilla families that tourists visit in Bwindi range over a wide area. Please have a look at the page www.gorillasandwildlifesafaris.com/Bwindi GorillaTourAccommodationLodgesHotelsCampsitesUganda.htm for more details about which accommodation you will need to book for each different gorilla family in Bwindi.

Hiring Porters and Walking Sticks for the Gorilla Trek

Usually there are porters for hire (at $15 each) at the park offices and walking sticks (at $5). Do not overestimate your strength; you may certainly need either or both of these. So put it in high consideration to hire one. Besides, it’s another way of giving back to the communities.

Joining your gorilla trek with other tours/ excursions

Uganda offers a variety of tours you can join onto your gorilla trek. You can choose to do these safari excursions before or after the gorilla trek. Here are a couple of the many tour options that combine gorilla treks with amazing wildlife and scenery viewing.

Uganda 4 days Gorilla tracking tour with Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Uganda 5 days Gorilla tracking tour with Wildlife Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Park
5 days Uganda Gorillas, Chimps Tour
5 days Gorillas trek Rwanda and Safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park Uganda
5 days Rwanda, Uganda Gorillas

6 Days Gorilla Trek tour, Kibale Chimps tracking, Wildlife BIG 5 Safaris in Queen Elizabeth National
6 days gorilla tracking, wildlife safari

7 days Uganda tour and holiday to Murchison Falls, mountain gorillas, Chimpanzees in Kibale Forest and Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable
7 days Gorillas, chimpanzee, wildlife 
7 days Uganda Gorilla Safaris
8 days Uganda Gorilla Game safari
9 days Gorillas, primates wildlife
All Inclusive 12 days Uganda Safari

Thursday, June 11, 2015

2015 Gorilla's families in Rwanda- the 10 Mountain gorilla families for tracking in Volcanoes National Park

As of January 2015, there are 10 habituated gorilla groups which are for tourism purposes, and these are the ones that gorilla trackers visit. At maximum 8 persons can visit each gorilla gorilla group per day spending a maximum one hour each visit. These groups include Susa group, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Group 13 (Agasha group), Kwitonda, Umubano, Bwengye, Hirwa, Karinsimbi, Ugenda.
In Rwanda, you can only track mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park (Parc National des Volcans), a part of the wider Virunga (mountains). At least 480 mountain gorillas inhabit this (Virunga) complex and live at altitudes ranging from 2,300-4,500 m ranging within the southern part of Virunga National Park (DRC), and the Volcanoes National Park northern Rwanda, while a few use the Mgahinga National Park, southwestern Uganda.
In Rwanda, Gorilla’s families or groups are divided into two those which are for the study/ research purposes and these are only accessed by scientists and researchers. These include: Beetsme, and Pablo’s Shida’s and have the largest number of individuals.
There are then also 10 habituated gorilla groups which are for tourism purposes, and these are the ones that gorilla trackers visit. At maximum 8 persons can visit each gorilla gorilla group per day spending a maximum one hour each visit. These groups include Susa group, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Group 13 (Agasha group), Kwitonda, Umubano, Bwengye, Hirwa, Karinsimbi, Ugenda.

1. Susa Group (Susa A Family) - the gorilla group that was famously studied by Dian Fossey.
It derives its name from the Susa River which flows through their home range. This family is the hardest to trek as it tends to range high into the mountains but RDB’s Tourism & Conservation trackers will know well in advance where the group is located the day before in advance for the next trackers. Sometimes tourists have been barred from tracking the group because of its distant location. This group is very impressive with a family size now of 28 gorilla membersSusa gorilla group Rwanda with 3 Silverbacks. It was the largest gorilla group before it split into two. The group had 42 individuals and when one visited it, all you could see where Gorillas all over. The group is well known for the young twins named Byishimo & Impano who are very playful. It also contains one of the oldest known habituated gorillas, Poppy. Born in 1976 Poppy is believed to be from one of Dian Fossey's original gorilla groups.
Typically, a mother abandons one of the twins, as it is almost impossible for her to care for both. As we watched the mother, Nyabitondore, care for the twins, Impano and Byishimo, at times we thought she would go insane from the task. But today you can enjoy the two bouncing around and playing as if nothing ever happened.

2. Karisimbi Family (Susa-B)
This is the family that split from the Original Susa (Susa-A) family and now it’s called Susa-B or Karisimbi Group. It contains 15 individuals and it always stays in the slopes of Karisimbi Volcano (4507M). which the highest pick of Rwanda. The Karisimbi Group is better suited to visits for more serious hikers. It appears that they have established their home range high up on the slopes of the Karisimbi caldera. Thus, a visit to this group may well end up as a full-days trek. The group sometimes migrates to higher altitude and hence makes tracking difficult. However, RDB tourism and conservation guides know where to find the group a day before. Tracking this gorilla family may sometimes be prohibited because of its distant location.

3. Sabyinyo Gorilla Group
Sabyinyo is an easily accessible group led by the powerful silverback Guhonda. Guhonda, the largest silverback of all the groups, who is well known for his massive physical appearance. Guhonda has kept his main challenger, Ryango, out of his group as a lonely silverback. There are fewer members within this family than in the other groups however they are equally impressive as a family.
The group was named after the Sabyinyo volcano which means "old man's teeth". Sabyinyo is one of the groups closest to the park's edge with 8 individuals: 1 Silverback (the biggest in the park); 3 Adult females; 1 Non adult female; 2 Juveniles and 1 Baby.

4. Amahoro Gorilla Group
Meaning "peaceful group", Amahoro, is the most peaceful of all the gorilla groups. The group has 17 individuals: 1 Silverback; 2 Blackbacks; 5 Adult females; 2 Sub adult males; 2 Juveniles and 5 Babies.  However, peace comes at a price. Ubumwe, the group's silverback is so peaceful, easy going and calm, he has lost group members to Charles in the Umubano group.
To reach Amahoro one must endure a fairly steep climb however the climb is well worth it once in contact with this tranquil group.

Amahoro gorilla group

5. Umubano Group

Meaning "neighborliness", Umubano a family of 11 individuals: 1 Silverback; 1 Sub adult male; 3 Adult females and 6 Babies.Umubano were originally Amahoro members but broke off after the dominant silverback (Ubumwe) was challenged by Charles, now the leader of Umubano.

As Charles matured into a silverback of the same rank as Ubumwe, he could not stand being given orders and decided to stage a fight and challenge Ubumwe. The fight went on for weeks and then months. Finally, Charles managed to snatch from Ubumwe a few females and formed his own group; thus Umubano was formed. Since then, he has commanded respect and recognition from Ubumwe. We have observed, on various occasions, interactions between the two silverbacks, but no fighting has been seen since the great battle ended.



6. 13 Group (aka Agasha Group)
When first habituated this group had only 13 members hence its name. Now the group has approximately 25 members: 1 Silverback; 12 Adult females; 2 Sub adult female; 3 Juvenile and 7 Babies. Formerly this group was commanded by Nyakarima who was challenged by Agashya meaning "the news". Agashya indeed made news by first watching and estimating Nyakarima's strengths and eventually challenging him to a fierce fight by taking off with his whole group. This was a shock to Nyakarima and an unprecedented event in observed gorilla history. Agashya then moved up the volcano to secure his group and make sure Nyakarima did not track them. Agashya has since increased his group's numbers by snatching from other groups and assimilating other lone gorillas, rapidly increasing the group from 12 to 25 individuals.
Agashya is known, at the first sign of trouble, to take his whole group up to the top of the volcano. Once, while we were taking a group of tourists to see Group 13 this exact scenario unfolded. Agashya felt that there was another silverback who was about to challenge him. In response, he took the group up the volcano. Every time we thought we were close to see them, Agashya would move the group further uphill. We did not reach them until the very top, where we finally got a chance to see them. By the time we got back to the car we had walked for 12 hours. While it was an exhausting day, it was magical to see gorillas at the top the world.

13 gorilla group

7. Kwitonda Family
This 18-member group is led by a silverback known as Kwitonda which means “humble one” and has two silverbacks and one blackback. Having migrated from DRC, this group tends to range far making it a moderately difficult trek. Together with Susa B this is one of the difficult groups to track

Kwitonda gorilla group

8. Hirwa Group (meaning "lucky one")
This group came into the lime light on the 17th of June 2006 when trackers witnessed its formation by the merging of some members from two different existing families, namely from Group 13 and Sabyinyo making a very small group then. As luck would have it, other gorillas joined the group and now Hirwa has 9 individuals: 1 Silverback; 3 Adult females; 2 Sub adult females and 3 Babies.

Despite being the newest group on the block, Hirwa exhibits strength and holds its own amongst all the other established groups.

Hirwa gorilla group

9. Bwenge Family
The family size of this group is 11 individuals with Silverback. It is mostly found on the Slopes of the Karisoke Volcano. The group is led by a silverback named Bwenge and was formed in 2007 when he left his natal group and was gradually joined by females from other groups. This group has had some hard times; this is because there were some deaths of 6 infants. However now the group is growing strong with 2 successful births in the last few years and a strong capable silverback leader. The trek to see the group is tough and one has to hike up the hill or like 3 hours (gaining approximately 600m in elevation). The trails are sometimes muddy and very steep. Apparently it was also the group that was featured in the movie "Gorillas in the Mist".

 

10. Ugenda Family
This Group is found in Karisimbi area of Rwanda. The Family Size consists of 11 gorillas with 2 silverbacks. Its name means “being on the move” and was named because it was always moving from one area to another. Since it’s not in one place, tracking it may be some how difficult and involves also moving from one place to another to locate them.

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