24 baby gorillas will on 5th September this year receive new names during what has become Rwanda’s trademark tourism event. Dubbed ‘Kwita Izina’ after a centuries-old traditional Rwandan naming ceremony in which a newborn is welcomed into the community.
The theme for this year’s event is “Conserving now and for the Future,” and for the 11th year running, tourists, friends, conservationists and dignitaries will join the local community to celebrate the world’s most famous great ape: the Mountain Gorilla.
Vulnerable giants This year’s occasion will also celebrate the impressive 26% increase in Mountain Gorilla populations between 2000 and 2010, a feat which can be attributed in some part to gorilla conservation efforts from the government of that Rwanda’s tourism sector, working together with a number of actors.
However, man’s closest relatives remain at risk, and are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as Critically Endangered. Only around 880 of these beautiful apes are left in the world today, in two isolated populations, one in the Virunga Massif area, which spans parts of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the other in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, south-western Uganda.
This year’s Kwita Izina will provide a good opportunity to reflect on what can be done to further protect the fragile Mountain Gorilla.
More event-packed schedule This year’s event is set to feature more activities in the build-up to the main naming ceremony. The week will commence with “Inkaz’URwanda” (loosely translated as ‘The Cows of Rwanda’) in the country’s Eastern Province, a cultural ceremony focusing on the importance of cows in the Rwandan tradition and their impact on the social-economic wellbeing of Rwandans.
Other events to be held in the build up to the ceremony will be a conservation forum, photo exhibition and awards to recognise local conservationists.