Kwitonda gorilla family / group- In 2003, a Silverback named Kwitonda led his family across the border from Virunga National Park in the DR Congo to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. The family settled in the area between the volcanoes, Mount Sabyinyo and Mount Gahinga. It is believed that pressure from other gorilla families and possibly lone Silverbacks looking to start their own families were the reason for this move.
The Kwitonda family, named after their dominant Silverback still occupies this area today, but now under the dominance of Akarevuro, who was one of the sub-dominant Silverbacks of this family during Kwitonda’s reign.
Sadly, Kwitonda’s body was found on the 10th of September 2012 at a ripe old age estimated at 40 years. In the last few years prior to his death, Kwitonda showed signs of deteriorating health, associated with his age. Pressure from the other 3 silverbacks in the family, Akarevuro, Kigoma and Magumu, also took a toll on the old Silverback’s health.
As his body was only discovered 10 days after he disappeared from the family, it was not possible for the Gorilla Vets to determine the exact cause of death, but it is believed that he died of natural causes. Interesting behavior showed by the old Silverback was when towards the end of his life, he started to allow mating by some of the other Silverbacks in the family. It was as if he knew that he was not strong enough anymore to protect his family against rival males himself. By allowing the other Silverbacks to mate, he strengthened their bond to the family and so ensuring the protection of this group.
Under normal circumstances, young Silverbacks, refused the right to mate, will leave their family and move off in search of other families to concur. Kwitonda must have sensed this and therefore the unusual behavior.
Today, the 28 strong Kwitonda Mountain Gorilla family is one of the largest families in the Volcanoes National Park, second only to the Pablo family at 33 members.
Another gorilla group in Volcanoes national park Rwanda
Sabyinyo gorilla group is found in volcano national park comprises of 9 members that are frequently found in the gentle foothills of Mt. Sabyinyo and Mt Mgahinga. Sabyinyo group is one of the closest groups normally found at the edges of the park therefore easily accessed and allocated by the trackers for visitors to trek.
Sabyinyo group is led by the dominant silver back which was oldest, biggest and obviously stronger compared to the other two silver backs and other gorillas in the group. The group is very common for its giant silver back called Guhonda which is the largest silver back in the park weighing about 220 kg and it has kept its main challenger, Ryango away from the family to remain as a dominant silver back.
Sabyinyo gorilla group has got 3 female mountain gorilla with 2 youthful mountain gorillas and a young mountain gorilla. Sabyinyo group of gorilla is such an impressive family that everybody would wish to visit. First of all it involves interesting activities like hiking in the dense vegetation and forested slopes of Mt Sabyinyo and Gahinga that gave us an incredible experience about gorilla that I personally will live to remember.