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.