The Rwanda Development Board is pleased to announce that this year’s Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony will be held on World Gorilla Day on 24 September 2021.
The 17th Kwita Izina ceremony will be held under the theme ‘Conservation and Sustainable Tourism – A Foundation for Future Generations’.
The event will feature a virtual naming ceremony of 24 baby mountain gorillas born in the country’s Volcanoes National Park over the last 12 months. 328 baby gorillas have been named since the first Kwita Izina held in 2005.
This year’s namers will include notable partners, conservationists, international celebrities, dignitaries and friends of Rwanda.
On the same day, Rwanda will join the rest of the world to mark World Gorilla Day, the day 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 celebrate conservation of the mountain gorillas and honour those who protect them daily in their habitat.
The virtual ceremony will feature updates on Rwanda’s conservation efforts including the population growth of the mountain gorillas and the need to expand their habitat, and community support to improve community livelihoods while enabling wildlife conservation.
Speaking during her remarks at a press conference held on 27 August, RDB Acting Chief Tourism Officer Ariella Kageruka said:
“We are excited to hold the 17th Kwita izina event despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we celebrate the gains made in our conservation efforts, notably the increase in our gorilla population and the newly opened Gishwati-Mukura National Park, Rwanda’s fourth National Park and UNESCO biosphere reserve. We also celebrate the park communities whose lives have been transformed through the Tourism Revenue Share Programme.”
Commenting on the importance of Kwita Izina and conservation efforts, Dancila Nyirarugero, the Governor of the Northern Province said:
“Thanks to the benefits of the Tourism Revenue Share Program, communities living around the parks today understand the importance of tourism and conservation. Today, these communities minimise human-wildlife conflict and poaching and other illegal activities are at the lowest levels in Rwanda’s national parks. They are ready to join the Government and other partners in expanding the habitat of the mountain gorillas through the expansion program of Volcanoes National Park and look forward to participating in this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony.”
Concluding on the role the private sector plays in Rwanda’s tourism and conservation, Bonita Mutoni, the Chairperson of the Rwanda Travel and Tour Association said:
“Kwita Izina is a fantastic conservation event which the private sector has always participated in and we look forward to inviting a lot of travel agents and other partners to come and learn about Rwanda’s conservation story and contribute to that. Our key message to them is that when you choose to visit Rwanda, you choose conservation.”
Additionally, RDB, in conjunction with the African Leadership University, will organise the 2021 Business of Conversation Conference, a virtual session that brings together scholars, researchers, conservationists, policymakers and the private sector to discuss, debate and find solutions to today’s conservation challenges. The conference will take place from 22-23 September 2021.
About Kwita Izina
The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony is modelled off a centuries-old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. For three decades before the first official gorilla naming ceremony, park rangers and researchers named Rwanda’s mountain gorilla babies to monitor each gorilla in their family and habitat.
In 2005, Rwanda began officially naming mountain gorillas in what has become a global celebration of nature. By giving a name to these majestic animals, they are given the value they undoubtedly deserve.
The ceremony is, first and foremost, an opportunity to thank the communities that live around the gorilla habitat, Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas daily.
Over the last sixteen years, more than 300 mountain gorillas have been named. Today, Kwita Izina forms part of an ambitious strategy to preserve Rwanda’s natural heritage and further expand the role of tourism in the country’s transformation. As a result of the naming ceremony, Rwandans from all walks of life understand the intrinsic value of gorillas and their contribution to the country’s development.
Learn more about this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony at https://www.visitrwanda.com/kwita-izina/ and download photos from today’s press conference at https://www.flickr.com/photos/kwitaizina/albums/72157719740867301
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