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.
Neptuno Group 16 individuals
Silverback: Neptuno, an enormous and sometimes intimidating male, who seems especially curious about the world around him. Home range centered 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