The Bwindi national park covers an area of 321sq km and is located in Southwestern Uganda on the edge, of the Western Rift Valley. It is located in both Kabale and Rukungiri district, northwest of Kisoro and Kabale. Bwindi is regarded as true rainforest which spreads over a series of steep ridges and valleys that form the eastern edge of the Albertine Rift Valley. The Average annual rainfall in Bwindi is of almost 1,500mm, and it’s the vital catchment area, the source of five major rivers, which flow into the Lake Albert. The forest floor is damp and laden with leaf mold, matted vegetation, and fallen vines, which serve to trip you up as you clamber up and down the slippery slopes in search of a glimpse of the elusive gorillas. The park supports great biodiversity. While most of today’s forests are no more than 12,000 years old, Bwindi’s vegetation has been weaving itself into tangles over at least 25,000 years, in the process accumulating a lengthy species list. The park protects over 310 species of butterfly, 51 reptiles, 200 trees, 88 months and an exceptional 120 types of mammal including 10 primates. Primates in this park include chimpanzee, L’Hoest’s, red-tailed and blue monkey, black and white colobus, baboon, and Bwindi’s most famous resident, the mountain gorilla. Bwindi can be cold especially in the morning and at night. The annual average temperature range is 7°C – 20°C with the coldest period being June and July. On your uganda safari, warm clothing is required, plus wet weather gear since Bwindi receives up to 2390mm of rain/ year. This is concentrated during two wet seasons, short rains in March-May and heavy rains in September-November.
There are 15 Gorilla groups of families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with one reserved for research purposes.
There are 5 groups in Buhoma with Mbare being the first Gorilla family to be available for Gorilla Tracking in April 1993 and started with 12 members and 1 silverback. But shrunk in number and currently have 7 members and one silverback
The Habinyanja group was first visited by tourists in 1999. The name comes from “Nyanja” which is the local word for ‘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 family leadership. The adult females are led by the shrewd alpha female called Kisho
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 species 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 to neighboring DRC every now and then but always returned to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. They are usually not far from Buhoma Village and sometimes even wander through the gardens of the lodges.
In Ruhija we also have 4 families of which one is allocated for research and that is Kyaguriro
The Bitukura group was named after a river where the family members were first sighted. The habituation that started in July 2007 was a relatively easy process as the gorillas were already frequently encountered by the UWA rangers. Although the habituation process normally takes a minimum of two years, this group could already be visited by tourists within 15 months after the start. Bitukura is a peaceful family including 4 silverbacks and some playful juveniles. They share a close bond and often have ‘group meetings’ or get-togethers
Oruzogo gorilla group is located in Ruhija together with Bitukura, and Kyaguriro which is the gorilla family dedicated purely for research. This gorilla family can trek from Buhoma or Ruhija. You can thus book your accommodation in Buhoma or Ruhija Area. One will need to drive for one to two hours from Buhoma to reach the starting point. Oruzogo gorilla family was availed for trekking is 2012 and Tibirikwata the dominant Silverback made sure his family is viable and a formidable force in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest ahead of the approaching season when hundreds of human friends flock to southwestern Uganda to meet their closest cousins.
Kyaguriro group is located in Ruhija side of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This gorilla family is put aside for research to study more about mountain gorilla behaviors, habituation and how to conserve these great Apes only found in Bwindi and the Virunga Ranges. The Kyaguriro group was habituated in 1999 as a group dedicated to research. By closely keeping contact with this group a lot has been learnt about the mountain gorillas of Bwindi. Previously it was believed that the mountain gorillas in Bwindi forest are similar to those of the Virungas, but it has been observed that there are differences between the two types of mountain gorillas. For example, it seems that the blackbacks in the Virungas mature into silverbacks much earlier than the ones in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
The southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park has got five Gorilla tracking Groups with the new formed group known as Busingye,
The Nkuringo group was named after the Rukiga word for “round hill” and was launched in 2004. One of the most important reasons for their habituation were the problems they created for the local communities by destroying crops and other products. By opening up the gorilla family for visitors, the community could directly benefit from tourism and it formed a protection for the gorillas as well. The family was led by the silverback Nkuringo who died in 2008, leaving behind 2 silverbacks in the group. In November 2008, the Nkuringo family expanded thanks to the special birth of a twin – Katungi and Muhozi – though Katungi, unfortunately, died at the age of 1.5 years.
Nshongi is the largest group ever habituated and was officially launched in September 2009. It was named after the river Nshongi, close to the place where the gorilla family was first seen. Although most gorilla families usually consist of 25 members with one or two silverbacks, this family is a rare exemption. Another remarkable fact is that the group is led by Nshongi, who is not even the oldest silverback in the family.
Mishaya Group of gorillas is located in Rushaga southern region of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park together with Nshongyi, Kahungye, and Busingye. Mishaya is a silverback in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, who left Nshongi group in Bwindi with a few females to start his own group. He was able to gather a few other females from the other groups in the area, reaching a total of a group size of 12 gorillas including three infants. Mishaya, the only adult male in the group by the time of separation, is reported to be a fighter who often starts interactions with other groups.
Kahungye is one of the gorilla Families found in the southern sector of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Together with Mishaya, Nshongyi, and Busingye, they can trek in Rushaga. Kahungye and Oruzogo gorilla groups were presented for gorilla trekking in 2011 after passing the mock examination. In not more than a year, this group managed to split giving birth to a new gorilla family called Busingye which means peace.
Busingye gorilla group is the newest family to break away from Kahungye which was opened for trekking in 2011. It was suspected that at one time Kahungye would split as it had three silverbacks and a bigger group.
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