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Kwita Iziina – Gorilla naming ceremony a way of Promoting Mountain Gorilla Conservation

gorilla naming ceremony

This annual event takes place every year in Kinigi, Musanze province where the park headquarter of volcanoes national park is located. Volcanoes national park is one of the places in the world with the rare mountain gorillas. There are estimated 900 mountain gorillas remaining on the planet in the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo in the Virunga volcanoes however Rwanda has half of the gorillas and it’s the only destination in the world where one can easily view these unique rare species.
This year, a total of 24 gorilla babies were named. This naming ceremony is a way of closely monitoring the gorillas and ensuring conservation of these endangered animals.
Kwita Iziina is one of Rwanda’s events that attract a large number of foreign and local tourists to volcanoes national park to witness and participate in this marvelous event. Tour guides and researchers who usually go for forest expeditions in the nearby wild jungles near the entrance of volcanoes national park identified the named baby mountain gorillas.

The Rwandan president Paul Kagame was among the visitors who graced the ceremony. Kwita Iziina ceremony begun in 2005 as a conservation effort to protect the highly endangered mountain gorilla species and the government of Rwanda hopes that the naming ceremony shows the great importance and need of mountain gorillas to Rwanda’s tourism industry since they are the leading tourist attractions in the country and among the major foreign exchange earners to Rwanda’s economy.
The naming ceremony is not only a move towards conservation of the mountain gorillas in Rwanda but also a method of easily identifying the gorillas in the wild especially by researchers carrying studies and the visitors (tourists).

The names to the mountain gorillas are given in the local Kinyarwanda language basing on words of power, courage, wisdom and many others. These are most times given basing on the physical characteristics of the gorillas.
With the Kwita Iziina ceremony, mountain gorilla numbers are expected to drastically rise from only 900 to a larger number. The mountain gorilla numbers had greatly reduced in the 1990’s due to high rates of poaching, human encroachment to their natural habitants to create lands for settlement and agriculture and the many diseases that usually attacked them (mountain gorillas).

Facts about mountain gorillas
• They are only about 900 mountain gorillas today in the world living in the jungles of the Virunga volcanoes shared between Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo
• The gorillas are the largest of the apes’ species. A well-grown male mountain gorilla (silverback) weighs about 160 kilograms
• Mountain gorillas seem to be shy but are very aggressive especially when encroached by any one in their territory
• Mountain gorillas live in groups comprising of young mountain gorillas, female gorillas and male mountain gorillas that lead the group. The silverbacks decide the major activities that are done and maintain order in their groups.
• Mountain gorillas though very strong, they cannot swim and when angry they always beat their chest.
• Mountain gorillas predominantly feed on bamboo shoots, wild fruits, leaves and plants.
• The female mountain gorillas can produce between 2-6 offspring’s in their lifetime. They produce after 8 and a half months pregnancy and can take care of their babies up to about four years of breastfeeding and later let them free to entirely depend on the usual food (leaves, fruits and shoots)
• The female mountain gorillas are very protective of their young ones and can fight to death to protect them.
• Mountain gorillas are among the wild animals that share a DNA close and similar to human beings with about 94.5%