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.
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