With over 1004 mountain gorillas that still exist one earth, incredibly, this is the most significant achievement that so far has been registered in gorilla and nature conservation unlike in 1981 where their population dropped drastically up to 242.

As a way to celebrate such incredible success and Rwanda in particular, each year thousands of Rwandese gather on the foothills of Volcanoes National Park to witness Kwita Izina annual gorilla naming exercise. This tremendous annual event is one of a kind experiences that doesn’t only attract locals but also regional and international high profile personalities.

As for this year, 23 baby mountain gorillas that were born between July 2017 and June this year were given names in the fulfillment of Rwanda’s annual tradition for this critically endangered apes. This year’s event marked the 14th annual Kwita Izina ceremony and like before, thousands confined in Kinigi, Musanze district in Northern Province.

This year’s celebrations based on a theme ‘Conservation is life.’ The event equally attracted key profile personalities especially the former president of Nigeria-Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel-Nelson Mandela’s widow, conservationists, philanthropists, diplomats, sport personalities and many more.

The Kwita Izina is a rare event in the Land of a Thousand hills and was introduced in 2005 with an aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for mountain gorillas. This year’s celebrations was scheduled on 7th September and it was accompanied by launch of most community projects in Kitabi sector in Nyamagabe district, Ndego sector in Kayonza district.

This included the 10 built houses for local residents that previously stayed around the Nyungwe Forest National Park buffer zone as well as mobile clinic services, solar lighting systems and solar water pumps. This is as a result of the Rwanda Development Board Revenue Sharing Scheme that was also introduced in 2005. Besides, it was also accompanied with gala dinner at Lake Kivu Serena.

Due to continued conservation commitment including events like the Kwita Izina, over 604 individuals of these critically endangered apes today thrive within the Virunga Conservation Areas alone unlike 480 that were recorded in 2010.  The Virunga Massif region covers areas of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Virunga National Park in DR Congo and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda. The 23 baby gorillas mainly came from the 12 groups.Today, gorilla tourism has become a major foreign exchange earner in Rwanda’s tourism sector and also in other gorilla destinations.

Last year alone, the tourism sector in Rwanda generated $438 million and over $800 million is targeted by 2024. To trek gorillas in Rwanda, one needs $1500 to book for a permit. Besides mountain gorillas, this landlocked country also boasts of its other distinct wildlife species that are inhabited in protected areas like Akagera National Park. This park features as the only savanna grassland wildlife conservation area in Rwanda and popular for wildlife species like the African lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, leopards and many other savanna wildlife species including over 525 bird species such as shoebill stork, papyrus ganolex, ross’s turaco, swamp flycatcher, red faced barbet, heuglin’s roin chat, created barbet and many more.It is ideal for activities such as game drives, bird watching, boat cruise, sport fishing, nature walks and others.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is unique conservation area of its own and it boasts as one of a few primate capitals in East Africa. More than 13 primates are inhabited in this park including chimpanzees, 300 avifaunal species that include 25 species that are endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains especially the Chapin’s flycatcher, pockefellers’s sun bird; 11 of the 23 that are of Guinea Congo forest biome, several butterflies as well as more than 75 mammal species. This park is significant for you to engage in activities such as chimpanzee trekking, hiking, canopy walk, bird watching a mention but a few. The other is Gishwati-Mukura National Park which is Rwanda’s newly established conservation area. This protected area is set to be opened in 2019 and remarkably, it stands out for the most refreshing and authentic experiences. It is also popular for its diverse primates, bird species and many others.

Conclusively, the Kwita Izina is one of a kind events and significant not only to conservationists but also to the tourism sector at large. If you missed this year’s event, at least be participate the one which is scheduled in 2019 and you will have yet another memorable experience with the Great apes.

Other activities to do along with the 2018 gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda

Kwita Izina is an extra ordinary Rwandan tourism event. It was launched in 2005 with a purpose of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the critically endangered mountain gorillas. This year a number of 23 infant mountain gorillas will be named.

Rwanda has achieved its success in protecting and growing the endangered mountain gorilla population and their habitat through Rwanda development board and in association with conservation partners, private sectors and local communities. The naming ceremony has boasted Rwanda’s position internationally as one of the best destinations to visit for gorilla trekking encounters.

The naming ceremony was established in2005 with a goal of creating awareness of conservation efforts and also to honor the local communities for their on-going valuable support initiatives. Now Kwita Izina is the most prime annual ceremony on Rwanda’s calendar and it is attended by a number of community members and international participants, among others each year.

The number is now 258 mountain gorilla babies that have been named since the KwitaIzina ceremony was initiated. This ceremony is becoming known as the Africa’s leading dialogue on conservation and tourism. And this year’s theme for the ceremony is Conservation is Life.

During the Kwita Izina ceremony, naming the gorillas is not the only activity that will take place but also a series of other activities in order to make your safari more interesting and informative. Some of the activities will happen before the gorilla naming while others in due course. Visitors are allowed to engage in any of these activities and the experience will be superb.

  • Familiarization Tours

This activity is hosted for the international tour operators and media that will attend the kwita Izina ceremony this year.

During this activity the participants will get the opportunity to experience Rwandan’s diverse tourism attractions and unique cultural heritage. Rwanda has a number of cultural heritage attractions that can be spotted on the way from nyungwe like the King’s palace in nyaza among others. Andthis activity givesvisitors a chance to know the history of Rwanda and listen to their songs plus stories and all these makes Rwanda a must see destination.

  • Conservation Exhibition

Kwita izina conservation exhibition is another activity that will be enjoyed by the travelers during the naming ceremony period.it is a 2 days event that will be held alongside the conversation on conservation forum in Kigali. It will showcase the achievements of Rwanda in conservation activities through displaying educational materials and other products.

  • Conversation on conservation conference

This is an annual conference held in Rwanda with delegates attending from all over the globe. The forum brings together the leading global experts to debate ON Africa’s common conservation challenges and get the solution to preserve ecosystems for the next generations.

  • Kwita-Izina ceremony

During the kwita izina, the life of new born gorilla babies is celebrated. And this year makes the 14th kwita izina which will take place on 7th sept 2018 in Kinigi, volcanoes national park. The name given to the baby gorilla plays a significant role in the ongoing program of monitoring each individual gorilla in its family group and habitat. And 18 mountain gorilla babies are expected to be named this year.

  • Igitaramo cultural celebratory dinner

The last event that closes kwita izina celebration is the Igitaramo a cultural celebratory dinner. The main objectives of this fundraising dinner is to support the on-going conservation projects in Rwanda like; expansion of the gorilla habitat. And another reason for the dinner is to celebrate the conservation story in Rwanda and also to protect the wildlife and biodiversity in Rwanda for the next generations.

No traveler should ever miss the KwitaIzina ceremony and the other activities added to it that present to the visitors an experience they live to remember. Gorilla naming ceremony is one of the activities that make gorilla tourism in Rwanda exceptional.