Celebrating New Life: Rwanda Names Fourteen New Mountain Gorilla Babies

Every year my family grows, proudly says the Silverback, and, new babies are added onto our family, adds, the adult female, and, our naming ceremony is always special. It is graced by world dignitaries that honorably give us names, the sub-adult male gorilla chips in.

Every year since 2005, Rwanda Development Board conducts a gorilla naming ceremony locally known as “Kwita Izina”. The ceremony is used to welcome, name and celebrate new gorilla births in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. During the ceremony, new gorilla babies born during the year are given names, that later become their identity.  The names are given by both local and foreign officials; the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi explains that those to give names are carefully chosen to include individuals both foreign and local, and that this has made a great contribution to conservation efforts both in Rwanda and the world. She adds that “naming a mountain baby gorilla is considered a great honor”.

At this year’s 13th Gorilla naming ceremony, fourteen beautiful babies, four adults and one gorilla group were named by a cross section of dignitaries including renown Nigerian actress Patience Ozokwor and Howard Buffett, Chairman of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the conservation of mountain gorillas, which he recounted as he gave the name.

The new group composed of 8 individuals; including one silverback, 5 females, 1 sub-adult female, and 1 infant was named Muhoza at the ceremony.. The dominant silverback of the group is called Marambo. Here http://rdb.rw/kwitizina/?page_id=1854, you will find photos of the gorillas named this year and in the past.

This year’s Kwita Izina was celebrated under the theme “Conservation is Life” and was officiated over by His Excellency, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Mr. Paul Kagame, as Chief guest.

 In 2015 one of IGCP’s partners Allan Carlson of WWF – Sweden was honored to name a gorilla baby Icyifuzo – meaning wish. Icyifuzo from Isimbi group was born in 2014 to Turibamwe. Last year, one of the great wildlife conservationist advocates and famous television broadcaster – Sir David Attenborough – was delighted to name one baby gorilla –Inshungu from Pablo group. Unable to attend the physical gorilla naming ceremony, Sir David was represented by Mark Rose, the Fauna & Flora International Chief Executive Officer, and IGCP board Chairperson then. Both Icyifuzo and Inshungu are doing well and steadily growing into great gorillas.

Does the number of new births indicate an increase in the mountain gorilla population, many people seem to ask? Yes and no, because in the population there are of course gorilla deaths as well as births. Further, not all mountain gorillas are known, as there are groups and individuals which are not habituated to human presence, and are therefore not directly monitored. All there is to do, is to keep our fingers crossed until the census results for 2015 – 2016 mountain gorilla census are released by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration, expected by the end of 2017.

Some of the IGCP Staff that attended the Kwita Izina celebrations in Kinigi.

Some of the IGCP Staff that attended the Kwita Izina celebrations in Kinigi.

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