On Saturday 5th September, 2015 over 24 young gorillas born from June 2014 to September 2015 were named at the annual gorilla naming ceremony held in Musanze District at the foothills of the Virunga Volcanoes in Northern Rwanda. This well attended annual event was the peak of the tourism week and was the 11th edition of the local event first held in 2005.
The event was attended by over 30000 people including over 500 visitors from 26 countries. The event was preceded by a week-long series of activities. Dubbed the tourism week, activities held during the week included a familiarization trip for tour operators from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, a photo exhibition, giving back to the local communities and a ‘conversation on conservation’ that brought together stakeholders in the conservation sector from different parts of the country.
Twenty four foreign and local dignitaries named the 24 mountain gorillas and these included the MD of Best Western – Dr. Hans J. Heuer, Manager of Phinda Reserve – Simon Naylor, Pioneer of conservation work with mountain gorillas and Yale University Professor – Amy Vedder, World Wide Fund For Nature and Senior Conservation Advisor – Dr. Allan Karlsson, U.S. Department of State – Dr. Janaki Alavalapati, Rwandan Minister of Trade and Industry – Francois Kanimba, Rwandan singer, Jeanne Butera Knowless, Managing Director of Bralirwa, Jonathan Hall, Son of the founder of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Rwanda, Frank Keesling, and the Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group, Fred Swaniker and Isaac Fokuor.
The event was the 11th of the series of events held to name the gorillas in Rwanda with the first being held in 2005. This event has become the largest tourism in Rwanda and 192 gorillas have been named from 2005. During the event also six Rwandans were awarded with certificates for their role in conserving Rwanda’s biodiversity. Those awarded were Tarasin Nyiranizeyimana and Furaha Godfrey from the Eastern province, Agnes Nyiramanzi and Bandorayingwe from the Western Province, Marie Louise Mukeshimana and Jean Rwiyadaganza from the Northern Province.
Rwanda is one of the three countries protecting the mountain gorillas. The report shows that Rwanda hosts 302 gorillas, nearly 35% of the world’s total population of the mountain gorillas. The country is becoming a favorite to travelers who take gorilla trekking safaris to the Virunga to see the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild. Rwanda receives more visitors than their counterparts; Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.