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Virunga’s Gorilla Families – A Complete Overview

Congo is one of the three countries in the world gifted with mountain gorillas.

The famous Virunga National Park is home to these apes, sharing 95% DNA with humans.

It is the most popular Congo gorilla trekking park apparently.

Gorilla Tours in Congo
Mountain Gorilla in Virunga National Park, DRC

Congo has eight habituated gorilla families, which can be seen below.

Bageni Gorilla Group

The Bageni gorilla family is found in Bukima and Gatovu sections of Virunga National Park.

This is the largest mountain gorilla family in Virunga, with 26 individuals.

This group is a splinter of the Kabirizi gorilla family.

Bageni, the dominating silverback, broke away from the Kabirizi family to start his own group.

Nyakamwe Gorilla Family

Nyakamwe Gorilla Family was formed when the dominating silverback Nyakamwe broke away from his family Humba to start his own in 2014.

This group has 11 members and can be trekked in the Bukima area of Virunga National Park.

Munyaga Gorilla Family

The Munyaga gorilla family is composed of only 7 members, dominated by Gasore.

Though the group has only 7 individuals, visitors like to trek it because it’s one of the lucky groups with a set of twins from Bilali.

The group derives its name from its former leader Munyaga, who was succeeded by Mazawo, who was also succeeded by Gasore.

Lulengo Gorilla Family

Lulengo Gorilla Family can be trekked in the Jomba area of the park near the Uganda-Congo border.

The family is composed of 9 members, dominated by the silverback Lulengo.

Lulengo gorilla family was at first called Musekura gorilla family, but the name changed in memory of a park director who lost his life on a land mine.

Mapuwa Gorilla Family

Mapuwa gorilla family is also located in Jomba, near the Uganda and Congo border.

The dominating silverback was Mapuwa before the current one, Mvuyekure, took over the group.

The group is composed of 22 members.

Rugendo Gorilla Family

Rugendo gorilla family is one of the oldest habituated gorilla families in Virunga National Park.

The group was named after the silverback Rugendo, who was dominating at the time of habituation, but it’s now dominated by Bukima.

Rugendo led the group with 18 members until Humba, his son, broke off with 10 members to form his own gorilla family.

Rugendo died during clashes between the Congolese army and Rwandan rebels.

Humba Gorilla Family

Humba gorilla family was formed when Humba fought with his father, Rugendo, and grabbed away 10 members to start his own gorilla family in 1998.

Later, Nyakamwe broke away from this group to start his own family.

Humba’s group can be trekked within Gatovu and Bikengi sectors of the park.

Kabirizi Gorilla Family

Kabirizi gorilla family can be trekked from Bukima section near Goma.

The group derived its name from Kabirizi, an ICNN director who died in a traffic accident.

This group was at first dominated by Ndugutse, and the name was also Ndugutse before it changed to Kabirizi.

Ndugutse was shot in 1997 after being caught in crossfire between Rwandan rebels and the Congo government.

A wild lone gorilla, Kabirizi, took over the group after Ndugutses’s death.


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