This September, it was Kwita Izina, the annual baby mountain gorilla naming ceremony that celebrates Rwanda’s unique conservation success. This celebration serves to acknowledge just how important the mountain gorilla population is to the entire region, and the significance that Rwanda places on its environmental sustainability practices and ecotourism sector.
Kwita Izina is one of the reasons that Rwanda’s visitors have increased by 4% and tourism revenues increased more than 25% to $400 million in a single year.
Twenty-two baby gorillas were named and officially join the burgeoning gorilla population in Rwanda.
Naming a newly born baby has been part of Rwandan culture and tradition for centuries, and names attributed to the gorillas play a significant role in the on-going programme of monitoring each individual gorilla in their families and habitat.
For three decades prior to the first official gorilla naming ceremony, the naming of baby gorillas was carried out with little awareness amongst the public by the rangers and researchers that closely monitor these unique animals on a daily basis. This year, 22 newborn gorilla babies were celebrated in an event at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains and given their names.
Rwanda is very focused on sustainable tourism and environmental conservation, and this event is meant to highlight both of these efforts. There are less than 900 mountain gorillas worldwide, and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is home to half of them. The mountain gorilla population has increased over the last 20 years and though they are still critically endangered, events like Kwita Izina are essential in keeping these amazing gorillas from disappearing.
Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board, said:
“Kwita Izina is the traditional baby naming ceremony that welcomes newborns into their families and communities in Rwanda. We brought Kwita Izina to our mountain gorilla community to welcome them and to let the world know that they have a home and a place in Rwanda. Conservation and sustainable environmental practices are the core of Rwanda’s future and we are taking the utmost care to protect the sentient species to ensure that they can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
You can find more about Kwita Izina on the website: www.rdb.rw/kwitaizina