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Naming infant mountain gorillas has become an important annual nationwide tradition in Rwanda during the past 12 years. The naming ceremony, called Kwita Izina, is based on a, historic Rwandan cultural practice for naming newborns, and has been adapted and enhanced to celebrate successful gorilla protection and conservation.
After decades of extreme survival pressure, the conservation status of Grauer’s gorillas, found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has just been officially raised to the highest threat level – critically endangered – by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Karisoke Research Center, founded by Dr. Dian Fossey almost 50 years ago, has been housed in a variety of facilities over the years and is currently located in a large office building in the Rwandan town of Musanze, outside Volcanoes National Park where the gorillas live.
Mountain gorilla Poppy reached her 40th birthday this April and is the oldest of all the gorillas monitored by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. She is also one of the few remaining gorillas who was known to Dian Fossey. Fossey recorded Poppy’s birth (April 1, 1976) and filled her journals with details about the playful infant.
Bamboo is a key food plant for many animals that live in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, including mountain gorillas. It’s so important that the Fossey Fund monitors bamboo growth each year, to understand the impact on wildlife and to help predict its distribution.
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© 2016 Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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