Uganda is one of the lucky 3 countries that still harbours the world most endangered animals the mountain gorillas. A total of 12 gorillas that can be trekked live in the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable forest and Mgahinga national park. According to recent census Uganda had a total of 480 gorillas, with 400 found in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and the 80 in Mgahinga national park. A maximum of 88 permits are issued on a daily as presently you can track 11 habituated gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable forest and a maximum of 8 permits in Mgahinga gorilla national park giving a total of 96 permits issued out per day. Rushaga area also has 2 gorilla groups habituated that can be visited. Below are the gorilla families habituated in Uganda;
- Mubare (Mubale) gorilla group
This is the first habituated gorilla group in 1998. Mubare group was originally made up of 12 members however by the time the leader Ruhondeza died, it left only 5 of them. It is now made up of 9 members after 4 other gorillas joined it in 2013 and also got a new strong leadership of a new silverback. Tracking this family can take over 5 hours.
- Nshongi gorilla group
This family is made up of 36 members including 5 silverbacks and it is located in Nshongi. Unveiled in September 2009, this is the biggest group ever to be habituated deriving its name from river Nshongi where the family was first spotted. The family is headed by Nshongi which is the oldest silverback within the family.
- Bitukura gorilla group
Consisting 12 members including 4 silverbacks, Bitukura family is located in Ruhija drawing its name from a river where it was first seen. It was habituated in July 2007 and received its first tourists 15 months after its habituation and unlike other groups, Bitukura gorilla group gets along with one another.
- Mishaya gorilla group
This family is a break away from Nshongi gorilla family following a family dispute and these two still live within the Rushaga area in the southern region of Bwindi forest. It is made up of 7 members lead by Mishaya who is a fighter. He will fight to protect its family at whatever cost.
- Habinyanja gorilla group
This family is made up of 15 members including 2 silverbacks and is located in Buhoma. It derives its name from a local word ‘Nyanja’ meaning “water body”. The family on habituation was first seen around the swamp within Bwindi Impenetrable forest thus deriving such a name. This family is usually filled with drama and turmoil mainly coming from power battles between the 2 dominant silverbacks and also for group leadership.
- Rushengura gorilla group
Located in Buhoma, Rushengura gorilla family is made up of 19 members including 1 silverback and was formed in 2002. This one of the most peaceful groups you will find. Tracking time for this family tends to be shorter in recent times, as they have stayed around the park headquarters area.
- Oruzogo gorilla group
Located in the Ruhija area, it is made up of 22 members making it one of the largest families. Not only is this family popular to tourists for its size but also for the playful energy showed off by the juveniles and toddlers in the group that keep them entertained. The group received its first visitors in 2011.
- Kahungye gorilla group
The Kahungye Gorilla family is sizeable in number even after a recent split in the Family creating the new Busingye Gorilla Group. This group received its first visitors in 2011 and this is when it was first opened to tourists.
- Busingye gorilla group
This is a group that was formed after splitting from the Kahungye group in 2012. The family consists 9 members. There is always constant observation to see if the group will unite back to its former group as a way of reconciling and there have not been signs of this since.
- Nyakagezi gorilla group
This gorilla group is found in Mgahinga gorilla national park. It consists 9 members who are frequent travellers or say migratory often making trips to Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Bweza gorilla group
The Bweza Gorilla Family is another family that broke away from the Nshongi Family group because of too many feuds within the group at the end of 2013. It consists 7 members and can be tracked in the Rushaga area.
- Nkuringo gorilla group
This is the toughest gorilla family to be tracked in Uganda so it takes a bit more energy and stamina to get involved in this one. It is a large family in the southern scenic area of Nkuringo that will leave you feeling like a victor having encountered this tough terrain. It is also said that in 2013 a 94 year old woman completed this trek, fulfilling her lifelong dream of seeing gorillas in the wild.