Susa group also known as the “original Susa”, “Susa A” or “Kurira” is not only a historical group but also the most important as far as gorilla conservation is concerned in Volcanoes National Park.
Susa was first identified in 1978 by Dian Fossey and her team; therefore the family’s story dates back in 1980s before death of this gorilla heroine. She used this very group to conduct most of her research work and experiments.
It is located near River Susa where it derives its name. This river traverses the region where Susa family inhabits. It is located in a place within Volcanoes national park which is hard to access, making Susa family one of the hardest groups to track in this park.
The group was originally made up of 44 gorillas making it the largest gorilla family ever to live in the Virunga region, but due to several divisions, clashes, fights and separations, the family reduced to 28 and later to the current 18 members.
The group is also famous for being the only gorilla family with a set of twins, Impano and Byishimo who were born in 2004 and Impeta and Umudende in 2011 (although Impeta passed on later in 2015). Several splits of the group led to formation of many gorilla families mainly Karisimbi and Igishi / Susa B groups. Karisimbi family also split to form Isimbi family.
The family has been under the leadership of silverback Kurira since 1999, and is composed of a total of 3 Silverbacks, three black backs, four adult females, and two sub-adult males, one juvenile and five infants.
Susa family presents a very thrilling trekking experience as trekkers have a chance to watch the twins play and roll from one tree branch to the other.
The group has been a victim of a poaching tragedy that occurred in May 2002 and led to death of 2 adult females who died in their pursuit to protect 2 baby gorillas from brutal poachers who wanted to abduct them and sell them off on illegal market.