Kabirizi is one of the 8 gorilla families currently inhabiting the popular Virunga national park. Named after its lead silverback Kabirizi, it is one of those pioneer families in Virunga national park whose history dates back from the 1990s.
It is known that upon habituation, the group was called Zunguruka led by silverback Zunguruka who shortly died of old age, leading to the rise of his son, Ndungutse. Silverback Ndungutse lead the group till 1997 when he was killed in a cross fire between Rwandan and D.R. Congo militias near Bukima park headquarters.
By the time of Ndungutse’s death, the group had up to 13 members under the leadership of Buhanga (Ndungutse’s son) who took over leadership soon after.
However, continued resistance from silverback Karateka, his brother forced the two to split and Karateka left to form his own group with only 3 members. Months later, there was another clash between Karateka and Buhanga where Buhanga managed to recapture the 3 members back to his group, leaving Karateka as a lone silverback.
Buhanga later in 1998 was engaged in another serious fight with a lone silverback, Kabirizi who left him with grave injuries, but nevertheless Buhanga managed to keep all his members intact. Though the injuries later claimed his life. After his death, the family was left wandering without a silverback until an adult female named Nsekuye took over leadership.
Nsekuye’s leadership was short lived and on 23rd Feb. 1998 she was overthrown by Munyaga – a lone silverback. Silverback Munyaga continued leading the group until another silverback, Kabirizi interacted with him and took all his female gorillas to form a bigger group called Kabirizi family.
Silverback Kabirizi had misunderstandings with his son Bageni which led to their separation on 27th Jan. 2013. Bageni left with 20 members while Kabirizi remained with 16 individuals.
Today, Kabirizi group inhabits the areas of Bukima sector and is composed of up to 19 members, including 3 silverbacks, 5 adult females, 3 sub-adult females, 3 Sub – adult males, 4 babies and 1 juvenile.