Rwanda Holds Gorilla Naming Ceremony As the World Celebrates Gorillas

President Kagame with the 2019 Kwita Izina namers. This year the event will be virtual. Follow RBA and Visit Rwanda website from 3pm.

Rwanda is today Thursday September 24, set to hold the first virtual annual Kwita Izina -the annual ceremony to name newly born baby gorillas, an event that has become a household activity but this year’s will take place online due to the New Coronavirus outbreak.

The COVID-19 pandemic which has put everything on a standstill since early this year  and it did not spare tourism. However, with time, Rwanda is finding a formula to keep almost everything working virtually.

Following the reopening of tourism activities through July and August, Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the country’s board in charge of tourism and conservation announced that the 16th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony would be held virtually on World Gorilla Day, on 24 September 2020.

The 16th Kwita Izina, which will be aired live on Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) and the Visit Rwanda website, from 3pm this Thursday will be held under the theme “Conservation and Sustainable Tourism – A Foundation for Future Generations”

This year, 24 baby gorillas that call Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park home will be named by the Volcanoes National Park staff – the frontliners of conservation who protect and care for them every day.

They will include the park rangers, guides, wardens, trackers and veterinary doctors to mention but a few.

World Gorilla Day marks the day that renowned gorilla conservationist Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda in 1967. It is a day that encourages people around the globe to join conservation efforts to protect gorillas in the wild.

This year’s virtual event will feature updates from the field on how rangers, vets and researchers work everyday to protect gorillas and a handover ceremony of the community project RDB embarked on to improve access to potable water for the communities living around Nyungwe National Park.

The community project is part of the Tourism Revenue Share Programme, in which 10% of total tourism park revenues are invested back into communities, contributing to the development of communities living adjacent to Rwanda’s national parks.

Additionally, this year, RDB is working with conservation and private sector partners to organise the Conversation on Conservation, a virtual session that will bring together scholars, researchers, conservationists, policy makers and the private sector to discuss, debate and find solutions to today’s conservation challenges.

Commenting on this year’s event, the RDB Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza said that this year, unlike the past years where namers were selected from a wide range of categories, including celebrities, the focus will be on the core people who contribute to conservation.

“Having Kwita Izina virtually this year gives us the opportunity to celebrate those who are at the forefront of protecting the endangered mountain gorillas and share Rwanda’s conservation success with Rwandans,”

“We hope to inspire everyone to visit our beautiful country and experience the wonder of trekking to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Rwanda is open for tourism, and the sector underpins so much of our conservation work. That’s why we are proud of the impact of sustainable tourism on our national development and environmental protection efforts,” Kariza said.

The practice of giving a name to a newborn baby, known as ‘Kwita Izina’, has been part of Rwandan culture for centuries. The name attributed to a baby gorilla plays a significant role in the ongoing programme of monitoring each individual gorilla in its family group and habitat.

Clare Akamanzi, RDB CEO at Kwita Izina 2019. This year the event will take place virtually.

Meet this year’s Namers

Angelique Nikuze, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Prosper Kaberabose, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Emmanuel Nzabonimpa, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

François Xavier Ndugutse, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Eric Kabeja, staff at the Volcanoes National Park

Honorine Uwiragiye, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Emmanuel Munyembabazi, Ranger, Volcanoes National Park

Solange Mugeni, Porter, Volcanoes National Park

Jean Damascene Hategekimana, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Odile Nyiraguhirwa, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Marie-Louise Mbabazi, Community Based Conservation & Education Specialist, Rwanda Development Board

Loyce Gashumba, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Jean Bosco Iryamukuru, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Felicien Munyemanzi, Ranger, Volcanoes National Park

Pelagie Mutuyimana, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Jacques Bisamaza, Porter, Volcanoes National Park

Fidele Nizeyimana, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Francois Bigirimana, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Emmanuel Irakoze, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Faustin Nibishaka, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Dr. Antoine Mudakikwa, Retired Veterinarian




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