The 19th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony in Kiningi, at the foothills of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, saw 23 new baby mountain gorillas being named by conservation champions, community heroes, sports stars, industry leaders and international artists and celebrities.
Hosted by the First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame, the celebration brought together distinguished namers, friends of Rwanda, special guests and tens of thousands of people from the communities surrounding Volcanoes National Park.
The ceremony featured Rwandan musicians and a performance with almost 180 artists from the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.
“Mountain gorillas represent more than a source of tourism or adventurous entertainment. To us, our gorillas are the custodians of a nature we cherish. Rwanda’s efforts to protect its biodiversity have been multi-faceted, and multi-purposed. From local and international advocacy, to the creation and expansion of national parks, no stone is being left unturned,” said Kagame.
Since Kwita Izina began, 374 baby mountain gorillas have been named, and the population in the Virunga Massif has grown by 23%, according to the most recent census.
“This remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the communities living around the park, dedicated conservationists and researchers as well as visionary leadership. That is why today is also a celebration of the transformative power of conservation in local communities,” said Michaella Rugwizangoga, Chief Tourism Officer of the Rwanda Development Board.
During the ceremony, President Paul Kagame also received Idris Elba, British actor, musician and producer, and his wife Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Canadian model and activist who is a UN Goodwill Ambassador for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, to discuss opportunities for partnerships in developing the country’s creative arts industry.
Take a look at some of the baby gorillas with their new names and their meanings, as well as their namers.