Gorilla infants get their official names in Rwanda

September 9, 2015

Gorilla infants get their official names in Rwanda

The 11th annual Kwita Izina gorilla-naming ceremony was held in Rwanda on Sept. 5 and featured a record-high number of 24 infant mountain gorillas named (six of whom were from groups the Fossey Fund monitors and protects). Kwita Izina was celebrated through traditional songs, dances, the entrance of gorilla-costumed youngsters and gorilla trackers, and speeches by various individuals, notably Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Kwita Izina celebration 2015Twenty-four people including local officials, scientists and others were responsible for choosing the names for each gorilla, based on a list of suggestions from gorilla trackers. The infant gorillas monitored by the Fossey Fund were named as follows:

  1. Gasizi, after a section of the Volcanoes National Park where the gorillas live. (Born Feb. 24 in Pablo’s group; mother Gutangara)
  2. Umugwaneza, which means “nicer,” and refers to the mother, who is always nice to all the gorillas. (Born Jan. 16 in Isabukuru’s group; mother Bukima)
  3. Akaliza, meaning “firstborn.” (Born April 4 in Pablo’s group; mother Ishyaka)
  4. Ubwira, meaning “courage,” and representing the courageous work of the gorilla trackers. (Born March 10 in Musilikale’s group; mother Mahane)
  5. Tabaro, which means “battle,” and refers to the many interactions faced by this group. (Born Sept. 18, 2014, in Musilikale’s group; mother Ubufatanye)
  6. Kanyamahanga, meaning “foreigner,” because the infant was born in Congo. (Born Aug. 1, 2014, [estimated] in Kuryama’s group; mother Umutekano)

The week leading up to the naming ceremony included some additional special events. On Sept. 2, there was an official inauguration for the Bisate Learning Center, which the Fossey Fund helped create. Director of our Karisoke Research Center, Felix Ndagijimana, took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Another event was a conservation conference in Kigali that included seven members of the Fossey Fund team.