On September 5th, 2015, the Rwanda Development Board will host the eleventh annual Kwita Izina – gorilla naming ceremony – at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains. The theme for the 2015 festivities is “Conserving Now and For the Future.” The growing gorilla population has become a major tourist draw, and thousands are expected to turn out for the naming of 24 baby mountain gorillas this year.
“Gorilla naming is an important part of Rwanda’s conservation efforts,” says Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Head of the Tourism & Conservation Department under the Rwanda Development Board. “The centuries-old tradition now serves to play a significant role in the monitoring of each individual gorilla in their habitat and with their families. The Kwita Izina ceremony is a demonstration of the commitment to the conservation of Rwanda’s wildlife by the local communities, conservation groups, researchers, rangers, and tourists.”
Although gorilla naming, a uniquely Rwandan tradition, has always been a part of the country’s culture, Kwita Izina was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness for the endangered mountain gorilla. This year’s Kwita Izina will take place as Rwanda carries out another general census of the gorilla population in the Virunga Massif. The last report in 2010 showed encouraging growth in the gorilla population, registering a 26.3% growth in a period of seven years. The Rwanda Development Board has been continuing their conservation efforts and expects to once again see growth in the gorilla population.
New to the ceremony, the Kwita Izina Awards will launch this year. The Rwanda Development Board will bestow the Kwita Izina Award to celebrate achievements that have had a significant impact in improving of tourism and the protection of the wildlife globally. Awards will be given to recognize local conservationists for their life-time contributions to conservation and tourism.
Throughout the event, a business expo will highlight the economic growth in Rwanda. The Kiningi Community Complex will exhibit and sell their products including honey and handicrafts and offer interactive weaving sessions. It will also provide an opportunity for operators to sell packages and for hotels to showcase their services.
Leading up to the event is a week of activities aimed at promoting conservationism:
– August 28th – 29th, Inka Z’URwanda: This cultural event will be held in the Eastern Providence and will focus on the importance of cows in Rwandan tradition and the impact on the social wellbeing of the people living in different areas of the country. Activities will include workshops, exhibiting cow products, parading the cows, and awarding the herders. It will be organized by the Rural Environment and Development Organization (REDO), a local NGO that works with communities around the parks to conserve the environment and works with them to create income generating projects.
– September 1st – 2nd, Conversation on Conservation: This is a high level forum, whose target audience is policy makers, conservationists, philanthropists, civil society, business and community stakeholders. The event will provide a platform to network and exchange ideas on the future of wildlife conservation in Rwanda. Along the sidelines of the forum, there will be an exhibition showcasing conservation success through art, photography, business, education and community involvement. As the highlight of this, two leaders in conservation will have a conversation with the audience on the achievements and challenges in sustainable conservation and tourism.
– September 1st – 2nd, Photo Exhibition: This conservation photography exhibition will feature images that tell the most inspiring and impactful stories. It will take visitors on a journey through conservation’s biggest triumphs and arm them with the knowledge to make a difference. It will feature photographs of one of world renowned wildlife photographer Suha Derbent.
– September 2nd, Launch of a Community Project: During the eleventh Kwita Izina, one of the community projects that were developed through the Tourism Revenue Sharing scheme will be launched. A Public Library, with support from the Dianne Fossey Foundation, was set up in order for the public to access conservation and responsible tourism information.
– September 4th, Community Igitaramo: The famous community party (Igitaramo) will be held on the evening prior to the main naming ceremony. Rwandan traditional dances, storytelling and cultural performances will highlight this evening.
For more information on Kwita Izina and other activities in Rwanda, visit http://www.rwandatourism.com