Kwita Izina Names Newborn Gorillas, Celebrates Community Role in Conservation

June 20, 2011

Kwita Izina Names Newborn Gorillas, Celebrates Community Role in Conservation

The seventh annual Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony was held in Kinigi on Saturday, June 18. This year the theme was "Community development for sustained conservation." Kwita Izina has become a major celebration, organized by the Rwandan Development Board (RDB). It was adapted from a traditional Rwandan ceremony for naming children.

This year's Kwita Izina was well attended by the local community, Rwandan government officials, foreign dignitaries, friends of Rwanda and the Rwandan and regional conservation community. The guest of honour was Rwanda's prime minister, Bernard Makuza, who was the first to name a gorilla. The Fossey Fund was also well represented, by trackers, researchers and guests from the United States.

The Fossey Fund was mentioned in one of the categories of sponsors (Bronze) and thanked for sponsoring the Kwita Izina Soccer Competition. This was mentioned more than once by the RDB's CEO, John Gara and its head of tourism and conservation, Rica Rwigamba. The prime minister also thanked all the partners and the people of the Musanze district, as he recognised the efforts of the communities in contributing to mountain gorilla conservation. He said that mountain gorilla conservation has become a catalyst for the conservation of the rest of Rwanda's biodiversity. The park authorities' and conservation NGOs' contributions to improving the livelihoods of the local communities was also recognised.

A total of 21 infant gorillas were named, and nine of them are from the research groups that Karisoke monitors. We will send their new names, what the names mean and photos soon.

The Kwita Izina Soccer Competition was won by Bisate School, which the Fossey Fund and its partners support.

Felix Ndagijimana, Deputy Director, Karisoke Research Center