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rwanda gorilla naming ceremony-kwita izina 2010

World Environment Day & Annual Kwita Izina
“Many Species, One Planet, One Future”
“Raising global awareness of biodiversity conservation as we give names to our baby gorillas”

Rwanda is enthusiastic and honored to host the World Environment Day (WED) which is commemorated every year on 5th June. The WED was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. The UN dedicated this day to appreciate and celebrate the benefits, roles and resources that come with raising global awareness of the environment. It is the foremost vehicle through which worldwide awareness of the environment is stimulated. Celebration of this day is an opportunity to generate political, economic and social attention and prompt action.

In line with celebration to mark the WED, Rwanda is thus privileged to host internationally WED in conjunction with the celebration of the annual Kwita Izina Ceremony (which means giving names to baby gorillas) under the theme “Many Species, One Planet, One Future”
WED is designed to give a human face to environmental issues, empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development, promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and people enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

Rwanda has for the last consecutive 16years been dedicating a National Environmental Week which normally begins from 31st May to 5th June on annual basis. During the Week, that starts with the community work commonly known as ‘Umuganda’ to announce activities that mark the week, all districts of the country carry out environmental restoration activities while guided by the international theme for WED. 2010 will be the 38th year Rwanda celebrates WED and the 17th time Rwanda commemorates the National Environment Week.

Kwita Izina, the uniquely Rwandan event, was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness for the conservation of the endangered mountain Gorillas, which is line with this year’s theme of WED “Many Species, One Planet, One Future”

The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony has received thousands of international, regional and local visitors to its Virunga mountain ranges to visit the endangered mountain gorillas. For decades, international conservation organizations, donors and concerned individuals have made substantial resources available to the gorilla conservation cause and continue to do so. Each year the new born gorillas are celebrated in an exciting event at the foot of the Virunga Mountains.


As we celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity we raise public awareness of the importance of biodiversity and its protection from underlying threats, as well as the significance of establishing interconnections between biodiversity, conservation and green economy. Furthermore, as we continue to celebrate the birth of newborn mountain gorillas we want to use this opportunity to urge Rwandans and international community to engage in environmental protection and bring an end to the loss of biodiversity and look for innovative solutions and approaches to reduce threats to biodiversity including the majestic mountain ranges in which our gorillas live.

The remaining home range of the endangered mountain gorillas is limited to the Virunga Massif, a chain of volcanic mountains shared by Rwanda, DRC and Uganda. Rwanda is home to about one third of the 750 mountain gorillas left in the wild. The remaining population of mountain gorillas has only survived thanks to the renewed efforts of national conservation authorities and the local populations and the support they have received from the international community. In 2005 the inaugural Gorilla Naming Ceremony was launched and since then 103 baby gorillas have been named. And during this sixth annual Kwita Izina names will be given to eleven (11) mountain baby gorillas at the foot of the Virunga Mountains in Kinigi. This year’s event will be held on June 5th 2010 on World Environment Day.

“Raising global awareness of biodiversity conservation as we give names to our baby gorillas”

On Saturday, June 5th 2010, Rwanda will host the World Environment Day as well as celebrate the sixth Kwita Izina Ceremony through her agencies REMA and RDB respectively. 2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity, attention of the international community, public and funding agencies will be drawn to the plight of the environment. As a country that has been at the forefront of environmental management and gorilla conservation we heartily welcome the proclamation of the International Year of the Biodiversity as it creates an opportunity for Rwanda to showcase our achievements in promotion of sustainable tourism and environmental management efforts
The national theme for this year is “Raising global awareness on biodiversity conservation as we give names to our baby gorillas”. Under this theme, we shall celebrate the efforts of all those that are contributing to the sustainable use of our environment and to the welfare of our wildlife. We are expecting over 500 key personalities in environmental protection, management, wildlife conservation and business to attend the event.

Kwita Izina - Gorilla Naming background
The mountain Gorillas share with the human beings 98% of the genes and about a third of the world’s total mountain gorilla’s population live in Rwanda. The Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Park (ORTPN) and indeed the entire Rwandan community found it pertinent to extend the much cherished secular Rwandan tradition of naming every new born baby to the Gorillas as well.
The ceremony of giving a name to a new born baby commonly known as “Kwita Izina” has been part of the Rwandan tradition for centuries. This ceremony has also been used for past 3 decades now to give names to new born gorillas. The names attributed to the gorillas play a great part in the program of monitoring of each individual and gorilla groups in its habitat. Since this started, the gorilla naming ceremony was internal to the ORTPN and its partners and especially among the field staff.
As a means of raising awareness at the national and international level about the protection of the mountain gorillas and their habitat. ORTPN launched the annual gorilla naming ceremony in 2005. The theme of 2005 ceremony was “Ensure the Future of the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda". In 2006, the theme was "Recognize the Role of the International Tourists who Selected Rwanda as Destination" and in 2007, the theme was “Caring for Wildlife Concerns Us All”. In April 2007, Kwita Izina (to give a name) was unveiled as the new brand name for the Gorilla Naming Ceremony. During these three last ceremonies which were very successful, ORTPN and its special guests named 30, 12 and 23 mountain gorillas, respectively.
2008: Working together to conserve our Wildlife—20 gorillas named

Fifth Annual Kwita Izina 2009

On Saturday, June 20th 2009, the RDB|Tourism & Conservation – the successor of ORTPN– will host the Fifth Kwita Izina to give names to the newest arrivals in the Gorilla families. Names will be given to eighteen (18) mountain gorillas at the Volcanoes National Park.
This year’s ceremony coincides with the “International Year of the Gorilla,” proclaimed by the United Nations. The International Year of the Gorilla was launched at a ceremony in early December 2008, where Prince Albert II of Monaco and representatives of more than 100 governments gathered to discuss increasing measures for nearly 100 species endangered by pollution, climate change and over-hunting. By declaring 2009 the International Year of the Gorilla, the international community hopes to draw the attention of the public and funding agencies to the plight of these primates. As a country that has been in the forefront of gorilla conservation we heartily welcome the proclamation of the International Year of the Gorilla.
The theme for this year is “Celebrating the Year of the Gorilla”. Under this theme, we shall celebrate the efforts of all those that have contributed to the welfare of our wildlife and its conservation and give opportunity to everyone to contribute to the sustainability of conservation for Gorillas. We are expecting over 100 key personalities in wildlife conservation and business to attend the event.
The Gorilla Naming campaign is aimed at ensuring the future of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas and will provide an opportunity for all those who care about the mountain gorillas to contribute to this common effort. Two different, but complementary activities are planned for this event: the naming ceremony where selected people will be given the opportunity to name the gorillas in public and a Gorilla Conservation Conference that would help to celebrate the achievements.

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