A Hirwa Mountain Gorilla family that had crossed into Mt. Mgahinga National Park in Uganda last year in 2019 has returned to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda after an 8-month hiatus.
A statement posted on the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) twitter account reads: “RDB would like to inform the general public that the Hirwa group of mountain gorillas that crossed over to Uganda’s Mgahinga National Park on August 28, 2019 have returned to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
The Hirwa family was sighted and identified by gorilla trackers on April 15, 2020. Eleven members of the family of 17 that crossed over to Uganda returned. Unfortunately, 4)of the members were reported to have died from a lightning strike on February 3, 2020 while 2 succumbed to intestinal obstruction and respiratory infection respectively. An infant that was born in January 2020 in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park also passed away due to intestinal obstruction of the colon.
Hirwa is among many other mountain gorilla families that range within the Virunga Massif ecosystem, comprised of 3 regional parks: Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
Movement of gorillas within the massif is a regular occurrence. Reasons for cross-border movements include seasonal food availability as well as the interaction between various groups. Inter-group competition for food and reproduction are also significant factors determining gorilla home range changes over time.
Both parks are part of the Greater Virunga Landscape which is also part of the Albertine Rift. It is richest in endemic and threatened species including all of the world’s mountain gorillas, grauers gorillas, and chimpanzees. Containing 8 national parks, 4 forest reserves, and 3 wildlife reserves, this landscape straddles the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.