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The Largest Habituated Gorilla Group, Bwindi National Park

Nshongi gorilla groupThe Nshongi gorilla group living in Rushaga in the southwestern region of the Impenetrable Bwindi forest is the largest habituated mountain gorilla group and can easily be seen during our Uganda Gorilla safaris. This is the largest habituated of the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) families, a sub species of the eastern gorillas.

The group was named after River Nshongi along whose banks this group was first seen. This river has a color similar to that of honey.

During the early 2007, the habituation process on this group started and on September 26th, 2009, it was officially opened to tourist. As per the last count, the family had 36 members and it’s still growing; its silverbacks and the black backs are living together in peace. Majority of the gorilla families have around twenty family members and each is led by a single silverback. If the silverback dies, the group normally splits up between the oldest silverback.

It is a common occurrence that the dominant silverback is overthrown by a younger males gorillas however what makes the Nshongi group very unique is the fact that it has 3 (three) silverbacks, 7 (seven) blackbacks, and most amazing is that its dominant silverback –Nshongi is not the oldest of all.

There are a number of ‘conspiracy’ theories about the leadership role of Nshongi silverback. Some think that he inherited this position from his father – Mishaya. Today the family is thriving in harmony but the question everyone asks themselves is: For how long?

The unrivalled dominance of Nshongi’s may be threatened by Busasi a young very aggressive blackback gorilla who may anytime challenge for dominance. Its actually very likely considering the uncommitted behavior of Bwiruka an adult female who much loved by dominant Nshongi but also said to be secretly having a rendezvous with Bweza.

Now how does the female dominance within the group run? To whom are they loyal?

The Nshongi group has 3 (three) silverbacks, and each of these has mating privileges. This gives the females a wide range of choice, and would be very fascinating to follow up on the preferences of each of the females over the available males.

Nshongi Family Members:

Nshongi the dominant silverback,

Kakono another silverback,

Bweza a blackback,

Matama a blackback,

Busasa a blackback,

Bwire a blackback,

Munnywa a blackback,

Kutu a blackback,

Tinfayo a blackback,

Munini an adult female,

Shida an adult female,

Bukojo an adult female,

Nyampundu an adult female,

Bwiruka an adult female,

Tindatine a juvenile,

Mahoro a juvenile,

Mureba a juvenile,

Rurehuka a juvenile,

Mucunguzi a juvenile,

Kazani an infant,

Katoono an infant,

Mukiza an infant,

Ninsiima an infant,

Bwiruka baby an infant,

Rotary an infant

For more information about Gorilla Tracking in Bwindi, please visit http://gorillatrekking.org/

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