Twelve baby gorillas named in traditional ceremony

On Saturday 22 June the Rwanda Development Board hosted the ninth annual Kwita Izina in Kinigi, Musanze, a traditional ceremony naming mountain gorilla babies born throughout the past year.

Names were given to 12 baby mountain gorillas, as well as one newly formed family, due to an established separation of the Karisimbi group, at the Volcanoes National Park. The theme for this year was ‘Celebrating nature, empowering communities’.

Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming a baby soon after its birth. In the nine years since the event has been established, 161 gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect these magnificent animals.

Grounds where Kwita Izina is held annually. Credit: Ally Catterick/FFI
Grounds where Kwita Izina is held annually. Credit: Ally Catterick/FFI

This year’s ceremony included performances by Rwanda’s famous National Ballet and local musicians. Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Hamuremyi was the guest of honour at the ceremony during which he and other selected individuals gave names to the infant gorillas.

The traditional Rwandan ceremony of naming infant gorillas takes place annually. Credit: Ally Catterick/FFI
The traditional Rwandan ceremony of naming infant gorillas takes place annually. Credit: Ally Catterick/FFI

The remaining home range of the Critically Endangered mountain gorilla is limited to the Virunga Massif, a chain of volcanic mountains shared by Rwanda, DRC and Uganda. Fauna & Flora International, African Wildlife Foundation and the World Wide Fund for Nature are proud coalition partners of the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP). Without the tireless work of IGCP and other NGOs, gorilla populations in Rwanda, DRC and Uganda would not be where they stand today.

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