After a week of conservation-related activities, Rwanda’s annual gorilla-naming ceremony, Kwita Izina wrapped up in Kinigi, Volcanoes National Park on 7 September.
Organised by the Rwanda Development Board, the ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby has been part of Rwandan culture for centuries. It is named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that happened after the birth of a newborn.
The ceremony’s main goal is in helping monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat. This year saw the presentation of the names chosen for 21 gorillas born in the past year.
The theme of this year’s Kwita Izina was “Conservation is Life,” and the activities in the lead up to the naming ceremony included community projects, educational programs, the “Conversation on Conservation” workshop and an exhibition.
The gorilla names were chosen by a variety of participants at the ceremony, including Rwandan and international officials, local and international conservationists, business leaders, sports personalities, musicians and others.
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla has increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010. The Virunga Massif is comprised Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire area had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.
In conjunction with the week’s events for Kwita Izina, the fourth edition of the Conversation on Conservation (COC) recently took place at the Kigali Cultural and Exhibition Village in Rwanda, discussing ‘Advancing Conservation through Technology’.
The two-day forum brought together conservation and tourism experts from around the world to discuss, debate and find solutions for conservation challenges.
The COC is a uniquely Rwandan event introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla, is ‘Conservation is Life’.
The event coincides with the week-long 2018 Kwita Izina celebrations. The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony will took place in Kinigi, Northern Province on 7, September where 23 infant mountain gorillas will be named this year.
Welcoming the COC participants, the Rwanda Development Board Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza, said “this 4th Kwita Izina Conversation on Conservation Conference for which you have joined today and tomorrow, is an important forum bringing together you, the conservation and tourism experts from around the World, to discuss, debate and find solutions to the challenges we all face in conservation today – in Rwanda, in Africa and Globally.”