Rwanda names 20 endangered baby mountain gorillas

Aerial photo taken on Sept. 2, 2022 shows a baby gorilla naming ceremony in Musanze, Rwanda. Rwanda on Friday gave names to 20 baby gorillas born over the last 12 months in an annual gorilla conservation event held in the Northern Province. (Photo by Cyril Ndegeya/Xinhua)

Rwanda has given names to 20 baby gorillas born over the last 12 months in an annual gorilla conservation event held at the foothills of the volcano mountains in the Northern Province.

Aerial photo taken on Sept. 2, 2022 shows a baby gorilla naming ceremony in Musanze, Rwanda. Rwanda on Friday gave names to 20 baby gorillas born over the last 12 months in an annual gorilla conservation event held in the Northern Province. (Photo by Cyril Ndegeya/Xinhua)

 

The annual baby gorilla naming ceremony, commonly known as Kwita Izina, was held for the 18th time.

The highly anticipated conservation annual event was presided over by Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Edouard Ngirente, Rwandan Prime Minister as well as thousands of Rwandans, members of the diplomatic corps, foreign dignitaries, sports personalities, celebrated musicians, philanthropists and conservation enthusiasts from across the world.

“Today, we are pleased that we are able to meet again in person for the celebration of Kwita Izina after two virtual editions due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ngirente at the naming event in the Musanze district.

“The act of naming baby gorillas is a demonstration of Rwanda’s commitment to conservation and a role this plays in our country’s social economic transformation,” he added.

Ngirente said that the 20 baby gorillas and the newly formed gorilla family and hundreds of others named over the last 18 years are the results of decades of Rwanda’s conservation efforts.

“Rwanda protects its natural heritage by investing in people that is why our tourism revenue sharing scheme is such an important part of our conservation strategy,” he said.

Ngirente called on the communities surrounding national parks to continue supporting the government’s efforts to conserve wildlife.

“Our mountain gorillas are part of this unique heritage found only in three countries in the world, seeing them is a unique bucket list experience for many from all over the world,” said Clare Akamanzi, chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) at the event.

This year’s baby gorilla namers included notable partners, conservationists, international celebrities, dignitaries and friends of Rwanda.

According to her, in 1996, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified mountain gorillas as critically endangered facing a threat of extinction.

“The good news, however, is that in 2018 mountain gorillas were really classified from critically endangered to endangered, a recognition of their improved wellbeing owing to collective conservation efforts by all of you represented here today,” said Akamanzi.

The annual event has become a major tourism ceremony in the small central African country. It has boosted efforts to conserve endangered mountain gorillas which have enabled Rwanda to tap tourism revenues hinged on conservation.

The ceremony’s main goal is to help monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat, according to the RDB.

Since the inception of this annual event in 2005, 354 baby gorillas have been named in the gorilla conservation event.

Tourism revenues increased by 25 percent from 131 million U.S. dollars in 2020 to 164 million U.S. dollars in 2021.

This year, the tourism sector is showing signs of going back to pre-pandemic levels, with the sector generating over 168 million U.S. dollars between January and June compared to 55.6 million U.S. dollars that were generated during the same period last year, according to the RDB.