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Naming the Gorilla Infants, a Thoughtful Process

December 2000

Naming the Gorilla Infants: A Thoughtful Process

Infant Ruhuka with Mother UmuraraA number of infants have been born into the Karisoke research groups since the beginning of 1999. The Karisoke staff give a lot of thought toward providing each with a good name. The following are the names of the infants that have been born since 1999, along with the names chosen and the meaning behind those names.

  • Afrika (Africa): Born 20th April 2000. This baby was born during a time when Uganda and Rwanda were fighting in DRC. This baby was named in recognition of the sadness the staff felt about this conflict.
  • Imvune (infiltrations): Born 15th August 1999. Refers to the hard conditions the Karisoke trackers and other residents of Ruhengeri endured during 1997 and 1998
  • Irakoze (thanks to God): Born 4th May 2000. Named for the release of a Karisoke employee from prison, and how all the staff welcomed his return to his family, his friends and Karisoke.
  • Isaro (pearl): Born 17th May 1999. Strong and beautiful. The Volcanoes National Park is the pearl of Rwanda and is a major source of income through tourism.
  • Kumenya (to know): Born 27th January 1999. In recognition of the trackers being able to identify the gorillas after a long period away from their work in the park.
  • Mafunzo (training): Born 18th June 1999. KRC trackers were undergoing paramilitary training when this infant was born to Puck.
  • Pato (to wait): Born 18th January 2000. Shangaza was 19 years old, 10 years older before giving birth to this, her first surviving infant.
  • Ruhuka (holiday): Born 15th October 1999, because the Karisoke director was on leave when she was born.
  • Infant Tajara with Fuddle Taraja (hope & expectation): born 1st June 1999. Hope and expectation is for the future of KRC, its trackers, their lives and the survival of the mountain gorillas.
  • Tegereza (end of the century): Born 25th October 1999. Y2K! This name was chosen because some say we are nearing the end of the world and others say it isn’t. So the KRC trackers were waiting to see what happened at the end of 1999.
  • Umutekano (security): Born 13th November 1999. To mark the restoration of peace in northwestern Rwanda after the insecurity of 1997-98.
  • Umwe (in memory of Dian Fossey): Born 13th March 2000. Named in remembrance of Dian Fossey, the work she did and how at this time the gorilla population seems to be slowly increasing.