Welcome to Rwanda for the Kwita Izina Ceremony 24th September 2020. The ceremony will be colourful with the presence of the Arsenal Players Naming baby gorillas in Rwanda’s Annual Kwita Izina Ceremony, 2020. The popular Kwita Izina is a Rwandan annual ceremony of giving a name to a newborn baby gorilla; the ceremony occurs annually on 24th of September. It is named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that happened after the birth of a newborn. The ceremony’s main goal is in helping monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat.
Therefore, for the continuous ceremony in the country it has great led to the higher promotion of gorilla safaris in the Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. Now in its 16th year, as of 2020, the occasion draws global attention to the importance of gorilla conservation.
In the recent years, some of the friends of conservation who have named baby mountain gorillas include Arsenal legends Tony Adams, Alex Scott and Lauren, naturalist Sir David Attenborough, model Naomi Campbell and actor Natalie Port man, among others.
This year’s Kwita Izina ceremony saw the likes of Arsenal players – striker Pierre – Emerick Aubameyang, defender Hector Bellerin and goal keeper Bernd Leno taking part in the special gorilla naming ceremony of baby gorillas in Rwanda’s prestigious Volcanoes National Park. The aforementioned Arsenal players’ contribution to this year’s naming ceremony is part of the ‘Visit Rwanda’ partnership with Arsenal as the club’s official tourism partner and sleeve sponsor.
This year, 2020, 24 baby gorillas thriving in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park were christened in a celebration of nature and the conservation front liners who protect and care for them every day. The ceremony usually features stories from the field on how rangers, vets and researchers work every day to protect gorillas and how Rwanda’s Tourism Revenue Share Program, in which 10 per cent of tourism park revenues are invested back into communities, contributes to the development of communities living adjacent to Rwanda’s national parks.
Baby gorilla profiles:
Arsenal’s stars of course didn’t disappoint with their choice of names. Aubameyang christened a 14-month-old baby gorilla ‘Igitego’, meaning ‘Goal’. Leno chose Myugariro, meaning ‘Defender’ for a 12-month-old, well as Bellerin christened an 11-month-old gorilla ‘Iriza’, literally meaning ‘First Born’.
Igitego (which Aubameyang named) is the son of Pasika from the Mafunzo family and was born on July 5th 2019. Bellerin’s Iriza is the daughter of Igihembo from the Kwitonda family and was born on October 11th 2019. Well as Myugariro (named by Leno) is the baby of Kubaha from the Amahoro family and was born on September 28th 2019.
“It’s an honour for me to name a baby gorilla,” Aubameyang said. “We have to work as a team to reach new goals in our conservation journey to protect them.
“I think I was lucky because since I was a little kid, I have had the chance to travel all around the world because of my father. I saw a lot of kinds of nature everywhere.
“As you know in my country, the panther is the animal. It represents me a lot because I’m proud of being African. We have beautiful nature so we have to take care of it.”
“It’s a privilege for me to name little baby Iriza, which means ‘first born’,” Bellerin added. “When you’re the first born in your family, you feel a sense of responsibility, and it’s our responsibility to look after our wildlife.”
Conservation efforts such as these have begun to make a difference for gorillas. In November 2018, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) changed their status from Critically Endangered to just ‘Endangered’, but there is more work ahead.
The Kwita Izina ceremony also serves as an opportunity to recognize the good work done by the rangers, researchers and trackers who work to protect the species, and the communities who live around Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.
Meanwhile, the ceremony took place online this year due to the outbreak of corona virus pandemic all over the world.
“2020 has been a difficult year, but in spite of Covid-19 we have made Kwita Izina special in two ways, by holding it virtually due to the pandemic and giving the people that spend a lot of time caring about the endangered species the privilege to name the 24 babies,” Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer ‘Clare Akamanzi’ said in a statement.
The ceremony coincided with World Gorilla Day, the day American conservationist Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center in northern Rwanda in 1967 to boost awareness of the endangered species.
Rwanda conserves over 200 mountain gorillas classified under 21 families in its legendary Volcanoes National Park. The Park lies under the larger Virunga Massif that also constitutes Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park as well as Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The larger Virunga Massif together with Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park are the only two places in the world still conserving the endangered mountain gorillas.
Last year, Rwanda reported a 17% increase in revenue from tourism, its biggest foreign-exchange earner. Tourist trips to go and see the gorillas, known as gorilla trekking, accounted for 14% of the US$ 498 million the country earned from the industry. The gorilla trekking activity costs US$ 1500 – a gorilla trekking permit.