by | Oct 18, 2019 | 0 comments

No, the family isn’t on a Gorilla safari tour, they actually live and stay in the forest.

Oh yes, there is definitely a First Family in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.

Meet the historical and memorable Mubare Gorilla Family group:

  • The first habituated family of Gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.
  • The first to be opened up to Gorilla tracking in Uganda after 2 years of habituation (that is in 1993).
  • Was first sighted on Mubare Hill.
  • Ruhondenza (a silverback) was the first family group leader (died 2012).
  • Kanyonyi (a sliver back) Ruhondenza’s son and successor died in 2017 at just 21 years old.

Let us get acquainted with the MUBARE GORILLA FAMILY:

The Mubare gorilla family which resides in the Buhoma region of Bwindi Impenetrable forest National park was the first habituated gorilla family in Bwindi to be opened up for gorilla trekking in Uganda in the year 1993 after a 2 years habituation process.

It was first sighted at the Mubare hills deep in the Bwindi impenetrable forest by the Uganda Wildlife Authority Rangers. It is from this hill that the mountain gorilla family gets its name “Mubare” from.

The Mubare family had 18 mountain gorillas led by a silverback named Ruhondeza. He was the jealous kind of leader who is believed to have fought off and killed young males (black-backs) he deemed a threat to his position. THE FIRST FAMILY IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE NATIONAL PARK

This among other an avoidable conditions like the death of the gorillas saw the group number reduce drastically to 5 members. Ruhondeza was attacked in 2012 by a wild silverback who forced him into exile from where he died after a few months later. He’s still hailed as the Father of Gorilla Tourism in Uganda.

Kanyonyi, Ruhondeza’s successor managed to expand the family again and increased it from 5 members to 11 members by the time of his (Kanyonyi) death in 2017. Kanyonyi was such a playful young and charismatic leader that loved interacting with humans. He died after a brutal fight with a lone wild silverback, which attacked him when he was still weak, during his recovery from a bad fall down a tree.


Kanyonyi was also a daring fighter who raided other groups / families for their females. He was able to keep Mubare family together and managed to make it grow by attracting the females.

At a glance:

The family is made up of:

  • 1 silverback
  • 6 adult females
  • 1 sub-adult (a teenager)
  • 4 infants

Note: Gorilla group figures keep on changing from time to time due welcoming newborn babies, death of old members or even moving to other Gorilla families and many more other factors that may attribute to their changes.

In conclusion:

The Mubare Gorilla Group is a great priority for most trackers as it roams within close proximity to the UWA headquarters at Buhoma and is sometimes regarded as easy to track. Mountain Gorillas are highly social and live in relatively stable groups that are led by a Silverback.

Other groups in the park include Habinyanja, Bitukura, Oruzogo, Rushegura, Mishaya, Nkuringo, Nshongi, Bweza, Kahungye, Busingye, Nyakagezi and Kyaguriro (the only group habituated for Research purposes).

WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET THE FIRST FAMILY? They would be glad to have you. 🙂

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About the Author

Kabanda Ezra

Ezra is a content writer with a bias in adventure travel and here he shares some of the stunning destinations, travel tips and experiences about Uganda, Kenya & Rwanda.

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