Rugendo is one of the most famous and pioneer gorilla groups in D.R. Congo’s Virunga national park. Virunga national park is one of the three national parks within the larger Virunga conservation area; among these include Volcanoes national park and Mgahinga gorilla national park in Rwanda and Uganda respectively.
Rugendo became famous way back from 1989 when it was the first ever gorilla family to be successfully habituated and visited by tourists in the Virunga national park. It is located close to the park headquarters in Bukima sector.
At the time of habituation, Rugendo family was under leadership of two silverbacks, Rugendo and his son Humba. Habituation of this group, together with other two families, Rugabo and Zunguruka began in 1985 and lasted for about 3 years until 1989 when it was opened to trekkers.
Rugendo was the lead silverback at the time, before it was brutally murdered in Bukima sector by rebels in 2001. Other than being the pioneer silverback, Rugendo is also a father to many other male gorillas that grew to become renowned lead silverbacks within respective gorilla families within Virunga national park. Some of these include Humba, Mapuwa, Senkwekwe, Mukunda, Nyakamwe, Baseka, Kongomani, Ruzirabwoba, Mburanumwe, Lubutu and Bahati.
Most of these male gorillas formed their distinctive families, like Humba and Nyakamwe who left from the group in 1997 to form their own Humba family, but later separated further to form another group Nyakamwe.
After the demise of Rugendo in 2001, his other son Senkwekwe took over leadership up to 2007 when he was killed brutally by unidentified gunmen with other five gorillas who belonged to this group.
For several months till 2008, Rugendo family did not have a leader until the solitary Bukima took over as a new dominant silverback. Bukima was formerly a member of Buhanga family and later joined Munyaga group where he spent some valuable time and later in 2005 he became a solitary silverback and united with Rugendo family.
The group is currently made up of 10 members including 3 Silverbacks under the leadership of Bukima, one Sub- adult females, two Adult females, two juveniles and two babies.