The Rwanda Development Board is pleased to announce that the 16th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony will be held virtually on World Gorilla Day, on 24 September 2020.
The 16th Kwita Izina will be held under the theme “Conservation and Sustainable Tourism – A Foundation for Future Generations”.
This year, 24 baby gorillas that call Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park home will be named by the Volcanoes National Park staff – the frontliners of conservation who protect and care for them every day.
They will include the park rangers, guides, wardens, trackers and veterinary doctors to mention but a few.
World Gorilla Day marks the day that 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 join conservation efforts to protect gorillas in the wild.
This year’s virtual event will feature updates from the field on how rangers, vets and researchers work everyday to protect gorillas and a handover ceremony of the community project RDB embarked on to improve access to potable water for the communities living around Nyungwe National Park.
The community project is part of the Tourism Revenue Share Programme, in which 10% of total tourism park revenues are invested back into communities, contributing to the development of communities living adjacent to Rwanda’s national parks.
Additionally, this year, RDB is working with conservation and private sector partners to organise the Conversation on Conservation, a virtual session that will bring together scholars, researchers, conservationists, policy makers and the private sector to discuss, debate and find solutions to today’s conservation challenges.
Speaking during her remarks at a virtual press conference held on 4 September, RDB Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza noted:
“Having Kwita Izina virtually this year gives us the opportunity to celebrate those who are at the forefront of protecting the endangered mountain gorillas and share Rwanda’s conservation success with Rwandans. We hope to inspire everyone to visit our beautiful country and experience the wonder of trekking to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat. Rwanda is open for tourism, and the sector underpins so much of our conservation work. That’s why we are proud of the impact of sustainable tourism on our national development and environmental protection efforts.”
The practice of giving a name to a newborn baby, known as ‘Kwita Izina’, has been part of Rwandan culture for centuries. The name attributed to a baby gorilla plays a significant role in the ongoing programme of monitoring each individual gorilla in its family group and habitat.
More details on the broadcast will be shared.
- In 2019, generated US$ 498 million in tourism revenues, a 17% growth compared to 2018 where tourism receipts stood at over US$ 425 million.
- Rwanda welcomed over 1.6 million visitors in 2019, among whom over 17,249 visited the majestic mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The park permits sold were worth US$ 25.1 million, a 25% increase compared to 2018.
- Total revenues from the country’s three national parks stood at US$ 28.9 million and Volcanoes National Park revenues contributed 91% of the all parks’ revenues.
- This year’s community project under the Tourism Revenue Share Program is a Rwf 62 million water project in Nyamagabe District that will serve around 315 households, a hotel and a guest house with a 20 cubic meter tank and 4 public taps for the community living adjacent to Nyungwe National Park.
- The water project will help protect and sustain the small rivers from Nyungwe National Park and the Nile Basin which will bring enough water supply to the park, for community consumption, agriculture – irrigation as well as hydropower use.
- Since the reopening of tourism in mid-June this year, inbound tourism to Rwanda has shown a promising return. Throughout the month of July and August, thousands of domestic and international tourists visited Rwanda’s top attractions and national parks.
- RDB is working hard to re-establish traveler confidence and looks forward to welcoming thousands of more guests throughout the next few months.
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 prior to the first official gorilla naming ceremony, park rangers and researchers named Rwanda’s mountain gorilla babies as part of monitoring 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, we give them a 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, our research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas rain, hail or shine, 365 days a year.
Over the last fifteen years, more than 300 mountain gorillas have been named and today Kwita Izina forms part of an ambitious strategy to preserve our natural heritage and further expand the role of tourism in our country’s transformation. As a result of the naming ceremony, Rwandans from all walks of life understand the intrinsic value of gorillas as well as their contribution to the country’s economic prosperity. Rwandans have become gorilla guardians.
Overall, Rwanda has emerged as a conservation and sustainable tourism leader on the continent. For instance, while in the 2010 Census there were 480 mountain gorillas, the 2016 Census report indicated 604 individuals in the Virunga Massif, These efforts have contributed to the increase in number of mountain gorillas worldwide (1,004), and categorised as no longer critically endangered.
Learn more about Kwita Izina at www.kwitaizina.rw.
For any media enquiries, please contact Doreen Ingabire at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +250 789 525 598.