Kwita Izina, an annual gorilla-naming ceremony based on a centuries-old tradition, will be held Sept. 5 this year, according to the Rwandan government.
The African nation has ramped up conservation efforts in recent years – this is the 11th annual Kwita Izina – and September’s ceremony is part of a bigger program, dubbed “Conserving Now and For the Future.”
Rwanda’s growing gorilla population has become a major tourist draw, and thousands of visitors are expected to be on hand for the naming of 24 baby mountain gorillas. Naming the gorillas is part of the government’s effort to monitor the babies and their families in their habitat.
“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,” ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, head of the Tourism & Conservation Department under the Rwanda Development Board, said in a statement.
Gorilla naming has always been part of Rwanda’s culture. The Kwita Izina ceremony was introduced in 2005 as a way of creating awareness for the endangered mountain gorilla. This year’s Kwita Izina will take place as Rwanda carries out another count of the gorilla population. The last report, in 2010, showed a 26.3 percent increase over the previous seven years. The Development Board expects another encouraging increase this year.
Just as the gorilla population grows, so does the celebration associated with Kwita Izina. This year the government will honor those who have improved tourism and the protection of wildlife, there will be a business expo, a conservation conference, a photo exhibit, cultural events and more.