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Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park

Nestled within the breathtaking landscape of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, a captivating narrative unfolds as we delve into the lives of 12 of the 23 gorilla families that call this pristine environment home.

This article invites you on a journey through the intricacies of these remarkable creatures and the dynamic relationships that shape their existence. From the Susa family’s historic split to the peaceful coexistence within the Amahoro group, each gorilla family paints a unique portrait of resilience, adaptation, and the enduring bonds that define their communal lives.

The 12 Gorilla Families which are habituated for tourism activities:

Originally a formidable group of 42 members, the Susa family underwent a significant transformation in 2009, splitting into four distinct families: SUSA, KARISIMBI, ISIMBI, and IGISHA. Led by the dominant silverback Impuzamahanga, the Susa group now comprises 19 individuals, showcasing a delicate balance of three silverbacks, five adult females, three blackbacks, two sub-adults, three juveniles, and three infants.

In June 2009, Nyagakangaga initiated the division of the Susa family, resulting in the creation of the Karisimbi group. This family, now consisting of 10 individuals, reflects a harmonious balance of six silverbacks, one adult female, one blackback, one sub-adult female, and one juvenile.

The Isimbi group emerged in April 2012 when its dominant silverback, Muturengere, left the Karisimbi group. Comprising 16 individuals, including one silverback, four adult females, four sub-adult females, three juveniles, and four infants, the Isimbi family stands as a testament to the resilience of these majestic creatures.

In November 2014, another dominant silverback, Igisha, departed from the Susa family, establishing the Igisha group. Now numbering 35 individuals, this family boasts a diverse composition, featuring one dominant silverback, four silverbacks, 10 adult females, one blackback, five sub-adults, six juveniles, and eight infants.

Habituated since 1995, the Amahoro family symbolizes peace, led by a serene and tolerant silverback. Comprising 21 individuals, including four silverbacks, eight adult females, three sub-adults, two black-backs, five juveniles, and seven infants, the Amahoro group exemplifies unity and cooperation.

Formed after the demise of the Amahoro group’s dominant silverback in 2002, the Umubano group represents togetherness and cooperation. With 14 members, including eight silverbacks, two adult females, one blackback, two sub-adults, and one infant, this family embodies the strength of shared bonds.

Originally habituated in the 1980s, the Agashya group, now led by dominant silverback Isano since May 2021, comprises 22 individuals. This family, featuring four silverbacks, five adult females, one black-back, three sub-adults, four juveniles, and five infants, reflects a seamless transition of leadership within its ranks.

Formed in September 2015 by the dominant silverback Marambo, the Muhoza group comprises 19 gorillas, including one silverback, eight adult females, one sub-adult, two juveniles, and seven infants. Marambo’s initiatives to interact with other groups aim to strengthen the familial bonds.

Discovered in June 2005 with eight members, the Hirwa group has evolved to include 13 gorillas. With a composition of one silverback, two adult females, two black-backs, four sub-adults, one juvenile, and three infants, the Hirwa family symbolizes growth and adaptability.

Initially habituated in the DRC side of the Virunga Massif, the Kwitonda group permanently settled in Rwanda in 2004. After the death of Kitwonda in 2012, Karevuro, a young silverback, assumed leadership. In May 2021, the Kwitonda group peacefully split into two sub-groups: Karevuro’s group with 20 gorillas and Kigoma’s group (Kwisanga) with 20 gorillas. The Kwitonda family now comprises two silverbacks, eight adult females, two black-backs, three juveniles, and four infants.

Formed from the gorillas that split from the Kwitonda family in May 2021, the Kwisanga group, led by silverback Kigoma, experiences shared leadership with subordinate silverback Lisanga. With 18 members, including three silverbacks, four adult females, one black-back, two sub-adults, three juveniles, and five infants, the Kwisanga family embodies the complexities of gorilla group dynamics.

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