Rwanda baby gorilla naming ceremony returns to in-person

Saturday September 03 2022

Gorilla tourism remains the backbone of Rwanda’s tourism and conservation sector. Some 23 babies born in 2017 are set to be named on September 7, 2018 during 14th edition of Kwita Izina. PHOTO | FILE

By The EastAfrican

Rwanda’s iconic gorilla naming ceremony Kwita Izina takes place on Friday, September 2, with a star-studded lineup of namers.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, who will name one of the 20 baby gorillas virtually, is among famed global leaders, philanthropists, conservation champions, sports, music, and fashion stars.

Kenya’s music band Sauti Sol is also on the list released by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

This year marks the 18th edition of the international conservation event and is the first time in person since 2019 following the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted travel.

Held in Kinigi at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park, the namers will join local communities, rangers, trackers, and researchers at the home of the endangered mountain gorillas for the ceremony.

Since the naming ceremony began in 2005, 354 baby gorillas have been named. As a result of conservation efforts, the number of gorillas has increased, making Rwanda home to one-third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.


Tourism recovery

The 20 baby gorillas to be named are members of the Noheli, Musilikali, Ntambara, Mutobo, Igisha, Susa, Kureba, Pablo, Sabyinyo, Muhoza, Amahoro, and Hirwa families.

“We are also happy to celebrate the safe return of tourism to Rwanda, after managing the Covid-19 pandemic well. We look forward to continuing to protect our natural heritage, providing world-class experiences that highlight the diverse natural beauty of Rwanda, while also ensuring that Rwandans benefit from tourism and conservation,” said Clare Akamanzi, RDB’s chief executive officer.

According to RDB, Rwanda is targeting to collect at least $360 million (about Rwf372 billion) in tourism revenues this year, up from $164 million collected last year.

In the first half of this year, the sector has shown signs of recovery, with the government collecting at least $168 million between January and June.

In 2021, total tourism revenues were $164 million, a 25 percent increase from $131 million in 2020. The country welcomed more than 512,000 international visitors in 2021.

The 2022 Kwita Izina baby gorilla namers are:

  1. HRH The Prince of Wales (virtually)
  2. Uzo Aduba - Actor
  3. Dr Evan Antin - Veterinarian and Television Presenter
  4. Neri Bukspan - Managing Director, Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Service
  5. Dr Cindy Descalzi Pereira - Philanthropist and Entrepreneur
  6. Didier Drogba - Football Legend
  7. Itzhak Fisher - Chairman, Rwanda Development Board
  8. Laurene Powell Jobs - Founder and President, Emerson Collective
  9. Dr Frank I. Luntz - Founder and President, Luntz Global
  10. Stewart Maginnis - Deputy Director General, International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  11. Thomas Milz - Board Director, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen Group South Africa & Sub-Saharan Africa
  12. Salima Mukansanga - International Football Referee
  13. Louise Mushikiwabo - Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
  14. Youssou N’Dour – Musician
  15. Naomi Schiff - Professional Racing Driver and Presenter
  16. Kaddu Sebunya - CEO, African Wildlife Foundation
  17. Gilberto Silva - Arsenal Football Club Legend
  18. Sauti Sol - Musical Band
  19. Juan Pablo Sorin - Paris Saint-Germain Legend
  20. Moses Turahirwa - Creative Director, Moshions
  21. Sir Ian Clark Wood, KT, GBE - Chairman, The Wood Foundation