Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park always tracked on Congo gorilla tours live in groups also called families and each family is led by an adult male known as a Silverback, which is responsible for taking care of and offering protection to the family/group from all forms of danger or threats from predators or intruders.
The silverback makes all decisions on behalf of other group members and since gorillas thrive in home ranges, they lead their families to where they will eat and nest every single day. He is also responsible for mating the female gorillas in the family. The influence of the mighty Silverback is always felt by the group and even the travelers on gorilla safari in Congo.
Virunga National Park has a total of 6 habituated Mountain Gorilla families, each with its own unique history and interesting way of life;
Kabirizi Family: This family is made up of 34 members under the leadership of 2 Silverbacks. Found in Bukima sector close to Goma, the group’s lead silverback is Kabirizi. The group was formally led by silverback Ndungutse, who was later killed during an armed conflict in 1997.
Humba Family; Humba Gorilla family is under the leadership of silverback Humba, the group is also found in Bukima sector of the Park near Goma and it is comprised of 16 Gorillas with the inclusion of 2 Silverbacks. This is one of the families that tourists & rangers enjoy visiting during gorilla trekking tours in Congo. The former lead silverback Senkwekwe, also a brother to Humba was assassinated on 22nd July 2007 by unknown gun men.
Rugendo Family; this group has six (6) individuals, including 3 Silverbacks. The lead silver back is Rugendo the father of Humba which was habituated in 1989 and by 1997 the family population grew to 18 individuals with two Silverbacks (Rugendo and his son Humba), until Humba took over his own group after the death of Senkwekwe in 2007.
Mapuwa gorilla Family consists of 15 members with 1 silverback, found in Jomba near Bunagana (Congo-Uganda border). The gorilla group is led by Mapuwa silverback who is also a son to Rugendo where he grew from until established his own family in 1998.
Lulengo Family; this group is made up of 6 members and 1 silverback, Lulengo. The group is located in Jomba near Bunagana boarder. Lulengo was born in the Rugabo Family which was the first Mountain Gorilla family to be habituated in the Mikeno Sector.
Munyaga Family; this group is found in Bukima sector and has a total of 7 gorilla members with 2 silverbacks. The Munyaga family was the last gorilla group to be found by rangers in 2008. This family was then headed by Silverback Munyaga who disappeared from the group around 2004, and Silverback Mawazo took over up to date.
One’s gorilla group to trek on gorilla tracking safari in Congo is not allocated until the exact day of tracking.