Rwanda will celebrate, on September 24, the iconic Kwita Izina, an annual ceremony in which newborn mountain gorillas are named after a traditional ritual with strong symbolic value.
By baptizing the baby gorillas during a solemn celebration, the Rwandan authorities hope to draw attention to these endangered silverback primates and raise awareness about preserving endangered wildlife and animals.
“For the second year in a row, the Kwita Izina ceremony will be held virtually” due to health restrictions, said Ariella Kageruka, director of tourism at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), at a press conference dedicated to the presentation of this national event.
“This year, Rwanda invites the whole world to take part in this ultimate celebration of life, during which 24 newborn gorillas will be baptized on the occasion of Kwita Izina,” said the official, indicating that some 328 baby gorillas have been named since the event started in 2005.
According to RDB, the 2021 edition of Kwita Izina will place special emphasis on conservation efforts in Rwanda and initiatives to expand the natural habitat of mountain gorillas.
Having become a living tradition for Rwandans, Kwita Izina takes place in the locality of Kinigi, at the foot of the Volcanoes National Park where primates live, and coincides with World Gorilla Day, which marks the day when the famous primatologist Dian Fossey created the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda in 1967.
Today, the Land of a Thousand Hills is home to nearly 35% of the world’s mountain gorilla population. This population experiences an annual increase which benefits not only the Rwandan people but also visitors from all over the world wishing to observe the largest primates in the world in their natural habitat.
For Olivier Mukwaya, a researcher specializing in the conservation of primates and an ardent defender of wildlife, Rwanda’s environmental authorities have made remarkable progress in terms of wildlife preservation.