The gorilla naming ceremony is one of the biggest events on the Rwanda tourism calendar. Held in September every year, this ceremony enables each new born gorilla get a name. Rwanda with ten habituated Gorillas do annual Gorilla naming ceremony known as “Kwita Izina”. 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.
Rwanda protects mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park situated in Ruhengeri province of northern Rwanda. The Volcanoes national Park offers daily gorilla trekking cessions (basing on the availability). Despite high cost of Rwanda Gorilla permit which goes up to US$1500, guests still go for gorilla safaris in high numbers.
Since 2005, naming infant mountain gorillas has become an important annual nationwide tradition in Rwanda. The naming ceremony is based on a historic Rwandan cultural practice for naming newborns in front of family and friends, and has been adapted to celebrate successful gorilla protection and conservation.
Facts about Gorilla naming
- Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming a baby soon after its birth. During this ceremony, infant mountain gorillas that were born in Rwanda during the previous year receive their names.
- At this year’s ceremony 19 infant mountain gorillas will be named, as well as one newly formed family.
- About 239 mountain gorillas have been named over the course of the Kwita Izina ceremonies. More are yet to be named as the ceremony is conducted every when the park gets new born babies.
- There are less than 1,000 mountain gorillas remaining in the world. This critically endangered species is found only in three countries, spanning four national parks.
- Mountain gorillas generate significant tourism revenue, providing direct economic benefits to communities. In 2016, Rwanda generated about US $400 million in tourism revenue — the majority of which was from tourists visiting the country’s mountain gorillas among others.
Reasons for Gorilla Naming
Identification- the facts that each habituated Gorilla family is given a name, even the individual gorillas are given names. Gorilla naming helps rangers, doctors and guests identify each Gorilla by name.
Marketing strategy – by organizing gorilla naming ceremonies, the country gets to be known world wide for hosting mountain Gorillas and how they increase.
Marking historical events – some gorillas are given names basing on the events which took place during birth period.
Marking places – some gorillas are given names similar to places where they are regularly found or places of birth.
Sometimes new born gorillas are named after a donor, a visitor or a contributor or the naming person. The aim is to remember or appreciated the contribution of that person towards the preservation of gorillas.
For head counting, it’s important to give each gorilla a name. The rangers need to know how gorillas increase or decrease.
Gorilla Families in Volcanoes National Park
There are twelve gorilla families that have been habituated for gorilla trekking in the Volcanoes National Park. Each of these families can be visited by a maximum of 8 visitors per day.
- Susa Gorilla Group (Susa A Family)
- Karisimbi Gorilla Group (Susa-B)
- Sabyinyo Gorilla Group
- Amahoro Gorilla Group
- Umubano Gorilla Group
- Agashya Gorilla Group
- Kwitonda Gorilla Group
- Hirwa Gorilla Group
- Bwenge Family Group
- Ugenda Gorilla Family