Susa Gorilla Families in Rwanda
Susa gorilla group of Rwanda was initially comprised of 42 members before they split into two because of group wrangles. Today, there are two families and these are known as Susa A and Susa B gorilla groups. The Susa gorilla family was made popular, by the famous zoologist Dian Fossey during her research activities and one of the most preferred gorilla groups by tourists. The name “Susa” is from the Kinyarwanda dialect borrowed from the nearby Susa River.
Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is the only gorilla habitat in the country with several habituated gorilla families. There are about 10 habituated gorilla families available for trekking on Rwanda gorilla tours in Volcanoes National Park. The park is part of the virunga massif that comprises of 8 volcanoes in which Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda and Virunga National Park of Congo are apart. About 600 mountain gorillas live in the virunga massif and the others live in Uganda’s Bwindi forest with a total of 1063 mountain gorillas estimated to be remaining in the wild.
Mountain gorillas live in groups or families each led by the dominant silverback gorilla. The silverback is an adult male gorilla in the group that has developed silver hair on his back due to age. Each 8 tourists on gorilla tours, are allocated a single gorilla group to trek in order to minimize the number of people who interact with a gorilla family each day. Allocation of a gorilla family is determined by the park rangers but can also be done according to clients’ preference or overall level of fitness. Some gorilla families live deep in the forest and others live at a close range to the periphery of the forest where gorilla trekking starts from. This makes some groups difficult to trek and others easier.
For tourists, to have a safe gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda, all families that are open for trekking first go through habituation and therefore made accustomed to the presence of human beings.
Susa A Gorilla Group
The Susa A gorilla group has 33 members and is the biggest gorilla family in Volcanoes National Park including 2 silverbacks. This gorilla family tends to live high up in the mountains and hence the most difficult to track. At times trekking this family can take almost the whole day. However, park rangers go tracking to find out their location before tourists can visit the group, however, on days when the family wanders very far deep into the forest, tourists may not be allocated this group.
The Susa A gorilla family is famous because of the playful young twins known as Byishimo and Impano which make this group full of activity and interesting to watch during gorilla safaris. For adventurous and physically fit trekkers, this could be the ideal gorilla family to trek. This is the group that Dian Fossey first studied during her years of mountain gorilla research in Rwanda. For twins of Rwanda gorilla safaris, this group excites them a lot as they relate with the lifestyle of gorilla twins.
Susa B – Karisimbi Gorilla Group
The Susa B gorilla family that split from the Susa group has 15 members. It is usually found on the slopes of the Karisimbi volcano from where the group derives its name. The group split from the Susa group after a long feud within the group members, after the split, this group was named Susa B or more commonly Karisimbi gorilla group. Trekking this group is difficult, however be ready to be rewarded with beautiful scenery that make the whole experience worth the trek.
Habituated gorilla families in Rwanda are divided into two category, one being those for gorilla trekking and the others for research purposes. Susa gorilla families are two of the groups that you can trek during Rwanda primate tracking tours. Mountain gorilla trekking takes about 2-6 hours for the trek and gorilla watching. However, a maximum of 1 hour is what trekkers spend in the presence of the mountain gorillas.
Mountain Gorillas are only found in three countries of the world which are Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since they are living within their natural habitats, mountain gorillas can only be seen through gorilla trekking in Rwanda or on Uganda gorilla safaris. East Africa is such a superb destination to visit within the African continent. For spectacular wildlife viewing experiences, Tanzania wildlife safaris or Kenya safaris are the most rewarding to go for. Combined trips can be planned including gorilla safaris as well as wildlife viewing.