The Democratic Republic of Congo is a destination which habits the endangered mountain and eastern lowland gorillas which are found in two national parks namely Virunga national park and Kahuzi Biega national park. Virunga national park is located in the Eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo bordering Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga national park is the most visited national park in Congo and is a home of 8 habituated gorilla families which are available for trekking by visitors on a daily basis and they include
- Rugendo family: this was the first group to be habituated in 1989 with 18 members under the leadership of Rugendo silverback who later died in 2001, he was succeeded by his son Senkwekwe who also died in 2007 and then the family was led by Bukima who was formerly a member of the Buhanga group and a solitary silverback. The group lives in the Mikeno sector between Bukima and Bikenge and was named after its great silverback Rugendo who fathered many gorillas such as Humba, Mapuwa, Bahati, Baseka, Lubutu, Mukunda among others. The group now consists of 9 members after Humba leaving with 10 of the members.
- Humba family: this group split from Rugendo family in 1998 and is led by Humba silverback. It is found in Bikenge and Gatovu areas and is known to be the calmest family in Virunga national park. The group in 2014 had grown to 16 individuals and a rivalry erupted between Humba and his brother Nyakamwe which led to the splitting of the group and Nyakamwe left with 10 members. The group is now comprised of 10 members including 3 silverback, 2 adult females, 1 sub-adult female, 2 juveniles and 2 babies.
- Nyakamwe family: this group split from Humba due to the rivalry and disagreements where Nyakamwe left the family with 10 members in 2014. This gorilla group was habituated at the same time with Bageni group. It is comprised of 11 members including 3 adult females, 2 juveniles, 2 silverbacks, 1 black back, 1 sub-adult females and 2 babies.
- Lulengo family: this gorilla family was named in memory of the former technical director of Virunga national park who was killed by a land mine. The group is found in Jomba near Bunagana border and is now comprised of 9 members including 3 adult females, 1 sub-adult male, 3 babies, 1 juvenile and 1 silverback.
- Munyaga family: this gorilla group lives in Bukima near Goma and the group was first led by Munyaga then Mawazo silverback who moved from Buhanga group and is now led by Gasore silverback. The group consists of 9 members including 3 silverbacks, 2 adult females, 2 juveniles and 2 babies.
- Kabirizi family: this group also lives near Goma and was habituated in 1994 with 36 members. The gorilla group derives its name from ICCN director who died in a fatal accident in the 1990s and it was formerly known as Ndugutse and dominated by Ndugutse silverback who died during a rebel war between the Congolese army and the Rwandese rebel group. The group split into two where Kabirizi’s son Bageni left with 20 members leaving the group with only 16 members and currently the group is comprised of 19 members.
- Bageni family: this gorilla group split from Kabirizi family where Bageni silverback left with 20 members including his mother Mapendo and some of his brothers to form his own group in 2013. It is found in Bukima, Gatovu areas and is the largest Gorilla group with 26 members including 10 adult females, 9 babies, 3 juveniles, 2 black backs and 1 sub-adult female.
- Mapuwa family: this group is found in Jomba near Bunagana border and was dominated by Mapuwa brother of Humba and son to Rugendo after habituation but its currently led by Mvuyekure who is protective of his family. The group consists of 22 members with 3 silverbacks.
Gorillas in Africa are also found in Kahuzi Biega national park and these gorillas are Eastern lowland gorillas and a bit bigger compared to the mountain gorillas which are found in the high altitude areas of Virunga national park, volcanoes national park, Bwindi forest national park and Mgahinga national park. Kahuzi Biega national park is located near Bukavu town in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and derives its name from the two extinct volcanoes which are covered by forests and they include Mount Kahuzi which is 3308m and Mount Biega which is 2970m high. Kahuzi Biega is a home of over 125 gorillas with about 12 gorilla families four of which have been opened for trekking.
Gorilla trekking in Kahuzi Biega national park is an activity where visitors move in the forests in search of the eastern lowland gorillas. Trekking starts in the morning at 8 am and the park is a great destination for lazy trekkers or tourists who don’t like long hikes. The gorilla families in Kahuzi Biega national park include
- Mpungwe family: this is the largest habituated gorilla family in Kahuzi Biega national park composed of 21 members.
- Bonnani family: this is one of the smallest habituated gorilla families in Kahuzi Biega national park comprised of 5 members.
- Chimanuka family: this gorilla group was named after the dominant silverback Chimanuka who split from Mugaruka family and took all the members from to form his own group. Chimanuka group is now comprised of 19 members.
- Mugaruka family: the group was named after the dominant silverback Mugaruka who was born in 1987. The group had disputes with family in 2002 which took all its females and infants leaving the group with only Mugaruka silverback. This gorilla family is recommended for the old travellers and conversational trekkers.
Kahuzi Biega national park is the only park in Congo where gorilla habituation process is taking place to train the gorilla family to get used to the human presence. Habituation process is being done on Nganwa group which consists of 10 members.