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Baby mountain gorilla. Credit: Kwita Izina

10th annual naming ceremony celebrates new baby mountain gorillas

Posted on: 04.07.14 (Last edited) 4 July 2014

2014′s Kwita Izina ceremony celebrates 18 baby mountain gorillas born in Volcanoes National Park during the past year.

On Tuesday 1 July 2014, Rwanda celebrated its 10th annual Kwita Izina, a traditional gorilla naming ceremony.

Kwita Izina (literally meaning ‘naming’) is a centuries old traditional Rwandan naming ceremony held when a child is born, welcoming them into the family and community.

Kwita Izina Naming Ceremony 2014. Credit: Kwita Izina

Kwita Izina Naming Ceremony 2014. Credit: Kwita Izina

The Rwandan people are the custodians of the local mountain gorilla population, responsible for their well-being, protection and the conservation of their habitat.

Every year neighbours, friends, conservationists and dignitaries are invited to join the local community as the newborn gorillas are named.

Strong but vulnerable

Only around 880 of these magnificent great apes are left in the world today, in two isolated populations – one in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, south-western Uganda, and the other on the forested slopes of the Virunga volcanoes, straddling the borders of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda.

Listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered, today the main threat to mountain gorillas is habitat loss due to human population growth and resource needs.

Unfortunately, the recent resurgence of armed conflict in Virunga National Park, DRC, also poses an immediate threat to the species as well as the people neighbouring the park.

Baby mountain gorilla. Credit: Kwita Izina

Baby mountain gorilla. Credit: Kwita Izina

Each of the 18 baby gorillas received a name reflecting different wishes for the good health of the country and the animal. Names given included; Ndengera (‘protect me’), Inzozi (‘dreams’) and Tebuka (‘hurry through’).

The chief executive of the Rwanda Development Board, who hold the annual ceremony, Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, told participants that the increase in mountain gorilla numbers is thanks to the tireless collaborative efforts of the Government of Rwanda, communities neighbouring the park and conservation partners.

Kwita Izina Naming Ceremony 2014. Credit: Kwita Izina

Kwita Izina (literally meaning 'naming') is a centuries old traditional Rwandan naming ceremony held when a child is born, welcoming them into the family and community. Credit: Kwita Izina

It’s partly due to gorilla conservation that Rwanda’s tourism sector has been growing at a remarkable pace in recent years.

Records from last year show that the country hosted 1,137,000 visitors who generated USD $294 million, up from $62 million in 2000.

International Gorilla Conservation Programme, a coalition between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and WWF, was established in 1991 to conserve mountain gorillas and their transboundary habitat by partnering with key stakeholders while significantly contributing to sustainable livelihood development.

Written by
Roger Ingle

Roger joined Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in the summer of 2008 after completing degrees in Graphic Design and Interaction Design. His duties are split between the worlds of print design and FFI's online presence.

On the print side of things Roger deals with the design and production of printed materials and documents such as the FFI Update newsletter, appeals and other FFI publications. He also oversees ongoing changes and improvements to FFI's website as well as managing FFI's social media accounts.

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Kwita Izina (literally meaning 'naming') is a centuries old traditional Rwandan naming ceremony held when a child is born, welcoming them into the family and community.

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