2020 was a rough year for people across the globe. Here at the Fossey Fund, we changed our work protocols in an effort to keep our staff members and the gorillas we monitor safe from COVID-19. We also had to worry about the health and security of the human communities with which we partner near Volcanoes National Park, and we had to think creatively, finding innovative ways to reach these communities with our important and life-saving programs.
There was one bright spot in this difficult year, however: baby gorillas!
The babies born in 2020 reaffirmed our belief that the work we are doing is making a difference in the gorilla populations we protect. With so few mountain gorillas remaining in the wild—just 1,063 were counted in the last census—the arrival of a new baby gorilla is always a cause for celebration.
On September 24—World Gorilla Day—the Rwanda Development Board hosted their Kwita Izina naming celebration, at which new baby gorillas receive their names. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they held the celebration virtually in 2020. Twenty-four baby gorillas received their names that day, and of the 24, 10 were born into groups monitored by the Fossey Fund. Seven of the babies were named by Fossey Fund trackers—a remarkable honor for our frontline staff.
And yet each new baby reminds us of the immensity of the task before us. We monitor each new arrival and each new mother carefully, knowing as we do that, while there are few animals on the planet more powerful than a fully-grown silverback gorilla, these baby gorillas are incredibly fragile and very much at risk. In 2020, each new baby born reminded us of the enormity of the task before us and inspired us to redouble our work protecting these beautiful animals and their biodiverse forest home.
The three infants of Kuryama’s group:
Meaning: One of Us
Meaning: Keep it Up