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Kwita Izina 2018: 23 Baby Gorillas to Receive Names

Kwita Izina 2018: 23 Baby Gorillas to Receive Names


Kwita Izina 2018, Rwanda’s annual baby gorilla naming ceremony, will take place on September 7 in Kinigi, near the entrance to the Volcanoes National Park.

Launched in 2005 and now in its 14th edition, Kwita Izina derives from Rwanda’s time-honoured tradition in which families hold a ceremony to name newborn babies.

The ceremony’s main goal is to help monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat. It was created as a means of bringing attention – both locally and internationally – to the importance of protecting the critically endangered mountain gorillas and their habitat in the Volcanoes National Park, north of the country.

Every year, the ceremony attracts more than 20,000 conservationists and tourism industry players from across the globe. During this year’s event, 23 baby gorillas born in the past year will receive names. 258 baby gorillas have been named since the ceremony was introduced in 2005.

As always, a series of activities will take place in the run-up to the event.

“One of the key activities for Kwita Izina 2018 is the hosted familiarization trip for international tour operators and media. It is our opportunity to showcase Rwanda’s diverse tourism attractions and unique cultural heritage that makes Rwanda a must-see destination,” the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), which organizes the Kwita Izina event each year, said in a letter sent to local tour operators.

“The itinerary includes cultural heritage attractions such as the King’s Palace in Nyanza, Nyungwe, Akagera and Volcanoes National Parks as well as Lake Kivu. Participants will enjoy Kwita Izina events with networking sessions and B2B opportunities built into the programme.”

Also on the cards this year is the Kwita Izina Conservation Exhibition, “a two-day event that will be held alongside the ‘Conversation on Conservation’ forum in Kigali,” according to RDB. “The exhibition showcases Rwanda’s remarkable achievements in conservation activities through displays of educational materials as well as conservation and tourism-related products and services.”

This year’s ceremony will close with Igitaramo, “a cultural celebratory dinner”.

“The objective of this fundraising dinner is to support Rwanda’s ongoing successful conservation projects specifically ‘Expansion of the Gorilla Habitat’,” RDB said. “Celebrate Rwanda’s conservation success story with us and help protect our wildlife and biodiversity for future generations. The celebration is a uniquely Rwandan dinner with great entertainment and local style cuisine on the shores of idyllic Lake Kivu in Rubavu.”

Other Kwita Izina 2018-related activities

Red Rocks Initiatives for Sustainable Development has developed a host of activities that will centre on the main Kwita Izina ceremony.

“We have organised a party for you at Red Rocks Cultural Centre where you will join other dignitaries, friends of the gorillas, tourists and the locals as we bid farewell to those who attended this important day of the Kwita Izina,” said Greg Bakunzi, founder of Red Rocks.

On September 5, Red Rocks plans to host the local community to share their success stories concerning harnessing tourism as a means of socio-economic and sustainable development. Apart from celebrating viable conservation efforts that the local community has undertaken, attendees also will have the chance to meet different tourism and conservation players from a broad spectrum in the industry who will provide them with salient details about the history of ecotourism around the Virunga massif, and the greater need to promote awareness of ecotourism concepts and approaches the government and private institutions have undertaken to encourage growth of ecotourism.

“We welcome policy makers, conservationists, philanthropists, civil society, volunteers and local communities to brainstorm and discuss the current and future of the Volcanoes National Park tourism, conservation and sustainable development,” Bakunzi adds.

On September 6, Bakunzi’s Red Rocks has scheduled an event where Kwita Izina 2018 visitors will engage in conservation-themed art exhibits and live painting demos. Visitor will take part in the demos by doing their own paintings which they’ll take home as souvenirs.

“This is an event you cannot afford to miss. Furthermore, our host of activities will include also a football tournament organised with conservation education in mind. Football enthusiasts may join the youth on the foot of the Virungas. You can watch the finals of this exciting Kwita Izina Volcanoes National Park tournament, and late in the evening be part of an exhilarating Crazy Night of the Gorillas at Red Rocks Cultural Centre in Nyakinama village, seven kilometres from Musanze Town,” says Bakunzi.