After a week of conservation-related activities, Rwanda’s annual gorilla-naming ceremony, Kwita Izina wrapped up in Kinigi, Volcanoes National Park on 7 September.
Organized by the Rwanda Development Board, the ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby has been part of Rwandan culture for centuries. It is named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that happened after the birth of a newborn.
The ceremony’s main goal is in helping monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat. This year saw the presentation of the names chosen for 21 gorillas born in the past year.
The theme of this year’s Kwita Izina was “Conservation is Life,” and the activities in the lead up to the naming ceremony included community projects, educational programs, the “Conversation on Conservation” workshop and an exhibition.
The gorilla names were chosen by a variety of participants at the ceremony, including Rwandan and international officials, local and international conservationists, business leaders, sports personalities, musicians and others.
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla has increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010. The Virunga Massif is comprised Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire area had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.
Here are a few of the new names of the infant gorillas:
Mother Muganga’s infant: Now named “Umusaruro,” which means harvest. This infant was born in October 2017, and mother Muganga has a daughter in the group who also gave birth, just a few months earlier.
Mother Mahane’s infant: Now named “Irebero,” which means symbol. This infant was born in April 2018 and has four siblings already in the group.
Mother Ubufatanye’s infant: Now named “Aremu Ingirakamaro,” which refers to child who is useful within the family. This infant was born in August 2017 and is in the same-fast growing group as the two infants above, named after its leader, silverback Musilikale.
Mother Ishema’s infant: Now named “Umuryango,” which means family. This infant lives in the historic Pablo group of gorillas, which has been in existence for 25 years.
Mother Ikaze’s infant: Now named “Kwiyongera,” which means to increase. This infant is in Musilikale’s group, which is increasing in numbers quickly.
Kwita Izina in photos