To celebrate the 15th anniversary of Rwanda’s Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony, Visit Rwanda has asked National Geographic social audiences to help choose the name for one of the baby mountain gorillas being named this year.
The baby gorilla to be named through this exciting conservation campaign is an adventurous female infant from the Kwitonda family.
A daughter to Icyamamare, the baby gorilla was born on July 1, 2018 in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.
The Kwitonda family is made of 34 gorillas including three silverbacks, nine adult females, three blackbacks, five sub-adults, four juveniles and 10 infants.
The two options voters can choose from are Intego and Imyato – names suggested by the rangers, vets and trackers who interact with the gorillas on a daily basis. Intego means ‘Purpose’ because her life holds purpose in Rwanda’s effort to save endangered species.
Imyato means ‘Achievement’ and pays tribute to those who have helped Rwanda thrive through conservation initiatives.
The name with the most votes from across the National Geographic platforms will be announced by the renowned National Geographic wildlife photographer Ronan Donovan on September 6, 2019 at the 15th annual Kwita Izina naming ceremony in Kinigi, Musanze at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park.
About Kwita Izina
Kwita Izina is a time-honoured tradition in which Rwandan families hold a ceremony to name a newborn baby.
For three decades prior to the first official gorilla naming ceremony, park rangers and researchers named Rwanda’s mountain gorilla babies as part of monitoring each gorilla in their family and habitat.
The Government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Development Board and in collaboration with conservation partners, the private sector and local communities, has achieved remarkable success in protecting and growing the endangered mountain gorilla population and conserving its habitat.
Rwanda’s traditional naming ceremony was adapted to celebrate this success as a national flagship event now known as Kwita Izina.
Kwita Izina was introduced in 2005 to raise awareness of conservation efforts and to thank communities for their on-going and invaluable participation and support of these initiatives.
It is now the most important event on Rwanda’s conservation calendar, and is attended by national, regional and international participants.
281 baby mountain gorillas have been named since Kwita Izina began.
Alongside the naming ceremony, a weeklong celebration of activities is hosted to share the importance of conservation and the role of tourism in protecting rare and iconic species.
Today, Kwita Izina is fast becoming Africa’s leading dialogue on conservation and sustainable tourism.
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010.
The Virunga Massif is comprised of 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 region had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.