How A Rwandan Baby Mountain Gorilla Gets Her Name

The Rwanda Development Board has announced that Kwita Izina, the naming ceremony for this year’s set of wild baby mountain gorillas, will kick-off on September 2, 2016. The annual event takes place in Volcanoes National Park, which is arguably the most famous destination in all of Rwanda.

While naming a newly born baby gorilla has been part of Rwandan culture and tradition for centuries, the official public ceremonies are just entering their 12th year. In 2016, nineteen not so little ones are expected to receive their names, including a set of twins. The event takes place over the period of a week and is expected to attract 20,000 visitors from around the world.

The study of mountain gorillas was the sole focus of legendary zoologist, primatologist and anthropologist Dian Fossey, whose book “Gorillas In The Mist” and the movie that followed brought the plight of this endangered species directly into the public spotlight.

Despite this increased attention, fewer than 900 mountain gorillas were counted in the wild in a census conducted in 2011. The remaining population is found across 4 National parks spreading over 3 African countries. Unfortunately, the mountain gorillas remain threatened by deforestation, poaching, the growing human population, and the social and economic crises of the region.

All is not lost, however. In addition to Volcanoes National Park, mountain gorillas, and related conservation efforts, can also be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the aptly named Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, as well as Virunga National Park.  Responsible tourism plays a not insignificant role in contributing to the economies that support the conservation efforts of the various government and independent organizations involved.

This year’s Kwita Izina theme is: “United in driving growth for conservation“. At the same time, Rwanda will be hosting  a 2-day trade exhibition and a forum on conservation to further highlight the country’s continued commitment to ecotourism.

Anyone planning to attend the naming ceremonies is strongly encouraged to book ahead as during Kwita Izina,  hotels in Musanze and neighbouring areas fill up weeks in advance, and the tours and activities are more likely to be at capacity.

Kwita Izina is part of a larger Rwandan government initiative promoting tourism and attracting more new visitors to the country. Rwanda’s tourism revenue saw an increase from US$304 million in 2014 to US$318 million in 2015.

You can find more information on mountain gorillas and how you can support them at:

More information about the naming ceremony can be found at the Rwanda Development Board.  Many thanks to Rwanda Guide Reginal Hakizimana for alerting us to this event!

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