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Hirwa Family

The name Hirwa means “lucky one” and the reason for this is simple. This family of gorillas was formed when Munyinga, the Silverback (aka the head honcho) kept getting into trouble with the Susa Family Silverback for mating with his women. So he left taking 2 of the females with him. He then moved to a new territory on the slopes of Mount Sobyinyo and collected other females along the way. I wanted to ask him his secret but since I don’t speak gorillas I knew he would not tell me. What makes this family further lucky is that one of the births resulted in a rare set of gorilla twins!

Mount Sabyinyo is an extinct volcano in the Virunga Mountains. On the other side of its 12,000 foot summit is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mountain carries the local nickname “Old Man’s Teeth” because its serrated summit resembles worn teeth in a gum line in contrast to the perfect conical summits of the adjacent mountains in this range.

This group is usually closer than most families and we were lucky to find them within an hour. The trackers found the gorillas on a steep slope and we came upon them as they were napping (except for one of the twins who kept bothering everyone wanting to play).

There is nothing like spending time with these amazing primates. You are only allowed to spend an hour with them.