Of the identified groups of Western Lowland Gorillas in the Ndzehi Forest around Ngaga Camp, two are the focus of habituation and research efforts: the Neptuno Group (~16 individuals) and the Jupiter Group (~25 individuals). These groups are named for the enormous and intimidating silverback males which lead and protect them. The two silverbacks, whilst equally impressive, are quite different in personality and this means that viewing the different groups can make for quite distinct experiences. Tracking excursions are privileged, intimate encounters with the habituated gorillas offer the opportunity for insight into the full spectrum of gorilla personality and community.
The gorillas’ movements are dictated by the seasonal availability of different forest fruits and other forage such as marantaceae leaves and stems. Daily activity patterns follow a set routine with the group leaving their overnight nests in the cool of the early morning and foraging on the move until locating a productive feeding site for the day. The midday resting period sees the group making day nests and relaxing and interacting in the forest undergrowth; the adults sedate and phlegmatic, while the more energetic youngsters often can’t resist interacting with each other. Foraging and movement in the afternoon ends with the selection of an overnight nesting site.
THE GORILLAS OF NGAGA
There are several groups of gorilla in the 30km² (11.5 sq. mi) Ndzehe Forest area surrounding Ngaga Camp. Two of these groups have been habituated and can be viewed by guests. The movements of both groups are dictated by the seasonal availability of different forest fruits and other forage such as marantaceae leaves and stems. There are also a number of unhabituated (or “wild”) gorilla groups but these tend to be skittish and are not often seen.
Complicating the picture are individual male gorillas, who cause trouble for the silverbacks and can have quite an impact on group movements.
Neptuno Group (~16 individuals)
- Silverback: Neptuno, an enormous and sometimes intimidating male, who seems especially curious about the world around him
- Home range centred on Ngaga Camp
Jupiter Group (~25 individuals)
- Silverback: Jupiter – just as enormous, but unusually shy and retiring for a silverback
- Home range centred to the south of Ngaga Camp