Once upon a time in the forested Buhoma province of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park there lived a family called the Habinyanja mountain gorilla family. From a river called “Nyanja” (which in a local language means a water source), that flowed through their homeland, the group received its name Habinyanja. In 1997 this family was habituated and received its first visitors on a Uganda Gorilla Safari in 1999.
With an extended family that stretched to a record 30 individuals Mugurusi meaning “old man” cleverly led the Habinyanja family. Mugurusi had a number of sons among which 1 (one) was the most popular, and Rwansigazi was his name. It was not a surprise at all that the bigger number of the family expected him to take on the leadership of the mountain gorilla group after his father. Like the meaning in his name, Rwansigazi (youthful) was very adventurous and made occasional voyages to the forests around his home which today can be seen during a Gorilla Safari and Tour in Uganda.
Mwirima, Rwansigazi’s younger brother was however becoming stronger and quickly maturing by the day. Mwirima (which means Dark in a local dialect) was reserved in nature and spent the bigger part of his day relaxing with the rest of the family.
Although in the past there had been an ultimate guarantee of the heir, at the unfortunate death of Mugurusi, Mwirima had also grown to a size and strength relative to that of his older brother Rwansigazi. The decision on who was to lead the Habinyanja mountain gorilla family was stiff, but after a period of family discussion, the gorilla group agreed to split power between the two brothers. However because of the difference in leadership styles some members heeded to the directions of one brother and paid a deaf ear to what the other brother had to say.
In 2002, the group peaceably split into 2 (two) with one group following Rwansigazi, and the other staying with Mwirima. The group which trailed behind Rwansigazi maintained the name Habinyanja, while the others who preferred to stay with Mwirima formed today’s Rushegura family and can both be visited during a Gorilla Trekking Safari in Uganda. Today the groups still maintain close ties, evidenced by their periodic visits to each other.
The Rushegura mountain gorilla family has 19 individuals and is still led by their 25 year old alpha silverback Mwirima. The Habinyaja mountain gorilla family has a total of 17 folks with 2 (two) silverbacks and their alpha silverback is called Makara. Makara did not wait for Rwansigazi to die before taking over the leadership of this mountain gorilla group.
While on a Safari in Uganda, make it an effort to journey to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, where you can visit these two legendary mountain gorilla families along the Buhoma Gorilla Safari trail head.
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