Nyakagezi is the only habituated gorilla group which is found in the Mgahinga National Park. Mgahinga National Park is found in the South Western parts of Uganda in Kisoro District and the smallest park covering an area of 33.7 km2. Mgahinga is an extension of the Virunga mountains which shared by the other 3 gorilla parks in the neighboring countries which the Volcanoes National park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The park approximately has 80 mountain gorillas but the Nyakagezi is the only gorilla family in the park. In the Virunga Mountains, the Volcanoes National Park has the highest number of Mountain gorillas with an estimated number of 480 primates (half of the World’s Mountain gorilla population), its only Uganda and DR Congo which have less gorilla populations.
Gorillas in the Virunga Mountains are migratory and keep on inter-crossing the borders which sometimes makes it difficult to track them. The Nyakagezi group visits Rwanda and DR Congo and it is considered as the easiest group to track because it is found in areas of lower altitude and like a small home range for resting, nesting and feeding. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is rest assured of more 8 gorilla tracking permits.
About Nyakagezi Gorilla Family
The group name is derived from “Nyakagezi” area in the Mgahinga where the group spends much of its time. The area is highly endowed with food which attracts very many gorillas to come and forage from this place.
Nyakagezi group is led by Silverback Mark, silverback Mafia, Ndugutse and Bugingo. Rukundo is the only blackback, Nyiramwiza an adult female, Nshuti the adult female with her two babies Nshuti and Fred, Nkanda and Furaha (Juveniles), Mutagamba (Infant). Fred was named from a Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) doctor called “Fred” who saved him from a wire snare. Bugingo is said to be the Oldest Silverback in the group and estimated to be around 53 years of age and still happily live together in the family with other silverbacks.
In the normal gorilla community, any overthrown Silverback resorts to being a loner gorilla who sometimes may abandon the family for good for example Silverback Ruhondozo who was ousted from power in the Mubare group completely forgot about and started living in the neighboring Rubona village until the time of his death in 2012 in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
You can book in advance your Nyakagezi gorilla tracking permits from the Ntebeko park headquarters or from Kisoro town and even online from the Uganda Wildlife Authority website in Kamwokya (Kampala HQ ) and it is important to first confirm within 24 hours to clarify by the Uganda Wildlife trackers if the group hasn’t crossed to Rwanda.
A traveler is advised to book for his / her tracking permit in time that is 3 – 4 months earlier or even 6 months earlier to avoid last minute disappointments. Gorilla tracking permits go for $600USD for foreigners who’re not staying in East Africa, $500USD for foreigners who are either working or living within East Africa and Shs. 250,000/= for the East African Community (EAC) citizens.