Virunga National Park counted six mountain gorilla families open for the trekking before it was closed in 2012 for insecurity in the area. Unfortunately, in 2013 the national park is facing great challenges, including encroachment of the gorilla habitat by armed groups (the M23 rebels occupied the Mikeno area of the park and the Congolese army the Rwindi sector), increasing poaching also in the savannah area and even the possibility that some areas of the park will be degazzetted for oil exploration.
The maintaining of the status of Heritage Site is incompatible with the concessions of oil exploration by the Government of Congo in areas inside the national park. In December 2012 a survey carried out in the Mikeno sector counted about 100 mountain gorillas with 7 new born, however monitoring became increasingly dangerous for the park officers.
Below you find information about the mountain gorilla’s families habituated in Virunga National Park at the time when the park was open. The status of insecurity in the region and the lack of State control is a serious threat to the conservation of mountain gorillas and even to those rangers who still put their life in danger to protect this park and whose work should be rewarded.
The family is composed of 34 Gorillas including 2 Silverbacks. The group is found in Bukima sector which is close to Goma and the group is led by Kabirizi Silver back. The group derived its name from an ICCN Director who died in a traffic accident in the late 1990s.
Previously, the silver back Kabirizi was not a habituated gorilla family and instead a wild gorilla. Later in 1998, he was named the head of his family after habituation. Formerly, this group was known as Ndungutse family because by then it was led by Ndungutse Silverback who was assassinated in 1997 after being caught in crossfire between the DR Congo army and Rwandan rebels near the Bukima patrol post.