Rushaga Gorilla Sector

Rushaga gorilla sector is one of the four gorilla sectors that make up Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Other gorilla sectors include Buhoma gorilla sector in the north, Ruhija gorilla sector in the east and Nkuringo gorilla sector in the south just 18 kilometers away from Rushaga. Rushaga gorilla sector is located in the southern section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park historically known to protect and harbor half of the world’s remaining endangered mountain gorillas. This gorilla sector was named after the Rushaga village in the southern section of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.

Gorilla families

Rushaga sector is known for harboring the highest number of mountain gorillas compared to all the four sectors in the Park that is to say both wild and habituated gorillas. This is also the only sector in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where one can have the gorilla habituation experience as a troop of Wild Mountain gorillas are tamed and trained to get used to human presence so that they are readily available for trekking. Rushaga gorilla sector currently houses eight gorilla families which are readily available for trekking and each gorilla family made up of a number of gorillas that are subjected to either an increase or decrease in number due to new births, deaths and gorillas joining from other gorilla groups or leaving to join several other groups or start up their own families and these include;

Nshongi gorilla family

The Nshongi gorilla family is one of the fully habituated gorilla families that reside in Rushaga gorilla sector and known to have been named after River Nshongi a river in this sector where the Nshongi gorilla family was first sighted. The word Nshongi was derived from a local Rukiga phrase “omushongi gwoboki” meaning honey referring to the deep color of the River which resembled that of honey. Today the Nshongi gorilla family is comprised of eight family members though it was initially comprised of 36 members including several males but later due to rivalry and misunderstandings, this family split apart to form other gorilla families for example in 2010 Mishaya a subordinate silverback that was part of the Nshongi family broke off with other 9 other gorillas to start his family. In 2013, the Nshongi family further split with Kakono silverback challenging the leadership of Bweza silverback who is the current leader of the Nshongi gorilla family and thus walking away with other gorillas leaving the family with 7 members not until the family received a new birth to make it up to 8 family members that include 1 silverback, 1 blackback, 3 adult females, 1 juvenile and 2 infants. This Nshongi gorilla family was habituated from 2007 and readily opened to tourists for trekking in September 2009.

Mishaya gorilla family

Mishaya gorilla family is known to have broken away from the Nshongi gorilla group in 2010 when a subordinate silverback known as Mishaya challenged the leadership of Nshongi to walk away with 10 members to start his own family. Mishaya led his family and kept on interacting with other gorilla groups and staging fights so as to recruit more gorilla members to his family. The Mishaya silverback is known for his fights in 2010 with the wild gorillas where he and his family members sustained injuries which also led to death of one of his infant. The Mishaya silverback was later mysteriously found dead on 3rd February at the age of 28years. The cause of his death is believed to have been caused by coiling of the intestines or an obstruction of the intestinal gut. The Mishaya gorilla family was left without any leader which forced its family members to join other gorilla families such as Bweza and Bikingi gorilla families. It was not until in May 2018 when researchers and Park officials rediscovered the Mishaya gorilla family under the leadership of Tinfayo silverback that is a former member of the Nshongi gorilla group. Tinfayo silverback is believed to have left Nshongi gorilla family in 2012 with one adult female called Shida and an infant called Rotary. The Mishaya gorilla family is currently composed of 8 members that is to say 1 dominant silverback, 5 adult females, a juvenile and 1 infant gorilla.

Bweza gorilla family

Bweza gorilla family is one of the gorilla families thriving in the Rushaga sector under the leadership of Kakono silverback that split away from the Nshongi gorilla family with Bweza as the family head. Kakono silverback challenged Bweza silverback in Nshongi gorilla family due to increased rivalry within the family and by the end of 2013, Kakono had moved away to form his own family. The family is composed of 12 family members under the leadership of Kakono silverback, with other one silverback, 4 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 1 juvenile and 2 infants.

Kahungye gorilla family

Kahungye gorilla family is a gorilla family in the Rushaga sector that was named after a hill where this family was first sighted. Kahungye gorilla family was initially made up of 27 members when it was being habituated in 2008 including 3 adult silverbacks namely Busingye, Rwiigi and Riziika. This gorilla family was opened for gorilla trekking in 2011 after a successful habituation but later split in 2012 to form two other gorilla families namely Busingye and Rwiigi gorilla families. The splitting of this gorilla family was fueled by misunderstandings, conflicts and continued fights amongst the three silverbacks. Kahungye gorilla family was left with 13 members that keeps on changing composed of Kasigazi silverback as the head of the family with other 2 subordinate silverbacks, 3 blackbacks, 3 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 infants.

Busingye gorilla family

Busingye gorilla family is a breakaway group from Kahungye gorilla family that separated in August 2012 due to increased misunderstandings, conflicts and fights amongst the silverbacks with in Kahungye family. Busingye silver back therefore walked away with 7 members to start up his own family. This gorilla family is named after the silverback Busingye and the name “Busingye” meaning peace although his demeanor is the opposite evidenced by his aggressiveness, attacks and fights to other gorilla families. He is fond of attacking other gorilla families to snatch female gorillas to add to his family which is a form of showing his dominance and power. Busingye silverback has been to expend his family to 12 members made up of 1 blackback, 5 adult females, 3 juveniles and 2 infants. Park officials thought Busingye gorilla family would reunite and go back to their former gorilla family but unfortunately there are no signs of immediate reunion since the family is living and thriving happily.

Bikingi gorilla family

The Bikingi gorilla family derives its name from Bikingi silverback who was once a dominant leader of this group. Habituation of the Bikingi gorilla family commenced in 2012 after which it was made available for trekking. An unknown solitary wild silverback gorilla attacked and killed Bikingi after a series of intense fights on 9th June 2018. After the death of Bikingi silverback, some family members separated from their major family and joined other families such as Kahungye gorilla family. Following a close search by rangers and Park officials, 9 members were found under the leadership of the wild male solitary gorilla. This solitary gorilla was later named after Bikingi silverback to keep in memory of the deceased silverback. Since then Bikingi gorilla family received new births bringing the number to 12 members comprised of 2 silverbacks, 5 adult females, 1juvenile and 4 infants.

Rwigi gorilla family

Rwigi gorilla family is one of the new gorilla families in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park that formed by splitting from Kahungye gorilla family. This gorilla family gets its name from the dominant silverback gorilla’s name known as Rwiigi a Kikiga phrase which means door or entrance. All members of this family had already been fully habituated within Kahungye gorilla family before they started up their own family Rwiigi. The Rwiigi gorilla family is made up of 10 family members comprising of 1 silverback, 5 adult females, 2 juvenile gorillas and 2 infants.

Mucunguzi gorilla family

Mucunguzi gorilla family is a newly habituated gorilla family in Rushaga sector that takes its name from a silverback known as Mucunguzi a local Rukiga phrase that means savior. This gorilla family formed by breaking away from the Bweza family under the leadership of Mucunguzi who was chased away and left lonely after several intense fights among silverbacks in the Bweza gorilla family. By then Mucunguzi was the youngest silverback gorilla in Bweza family. He then kept on invading other gorilla groups like the Bikingi gorilla family where he took away females to start his own family. Mucunguzi gorilla family is currently made up 12 members including the newly born baby gorilla by Ndinkahe adult gorilla female. This gorilla family is comprised of 12 gorilla family members that are fully habituated and readily available for trekking.


Rushaga gorilla sector can easily be accessed by road transport means taking you from Kampala via Masaka to Mbarara and Mbarara to Kabale and then connecting to Rushaga sector which is situated in the southern section of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. This long drive lasts for about 9 to 10 hours.

This gorilla sector can as well be accessed by air transport where one is required to book a domestic chartered flight with domestic airlines such as Aero link, Bar Aviation, Eagle Air and many more. These flights take you from Entebbe International Airport or Kajjansi airstrip to Kisoro airstrip and then connect to Rushaga sector by road which is a 2 hour’s drive.

The Rushaga gorilla sector can as well be accessed from Kigali Rwanda where visitors fly to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda and then connect to Rushaga by road via kyanika border to Kisoro or Katuna border to Kabale and then to Rushaga. This takes to about 4 to 5 hours and regarded as the best route for those willing to do a double gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.

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