In Africa naming children is one of the biggest ceremonies in a child’s and life and in the family especially the parents looking through countless baby naming books, to consulting family members, to perhaps drawing straws because a mother and father can’t decide between Leigh and Lee. It is considered a recognition and honor; it means you have been accepted in the family and society. Mountain gorillas are considered to be man’s closest relatives and in ecology it is believed that somehow humans developed from Apes, so it is only fair to treat them right, closely like humans given the fact that they are wild animals. Rwanda has for centuries held mountain gorilla naming ceremonies known as Kwita Izina (“to give a name”) to promote the protection of Rwanda’s Mountain gorillas and to celebrate their lives. In the Rwandan culture names evoke feelings of emotional attachment. So, the Rwanda government and RDB have made it a culture every year.
The ceremony has always been there but before 2005 it was done by gorilla doctors, researchers and game rangers that closely monitor these animals on a daily basis, however later the government decided to make it a real big deal ceremony.You may be wondering why it is such a spectacle. Well, it creates awareness. Thousands of very special invited guests attend Rwanda’s annual Kwita Izina. People from tourism, conservation and the Rwandan government make their way to the foothills of the Virunga Mountains, close to the gorillas’ home in Volcanoes National Park in Musanze. The gorilla trackers realize the value of their work, and take pride in increasing their dedication to safeguard the valued habitat.
Naming a newborn mountain gorilla is a special honour and special people chosen to name a baby are carefully selected. The names chosen must bear deep meanings with explained heartfelt consideration, some are named after the conditions they were born in others by their social behavior depending on what the one naming wants to consider (at the Kwita Izina 2017, 14 newborn mountain gorillas were named). Rwanda looks at each new born mountain gorilla baby as a celebration of conservation.
This celebration of conservation is definitely worth it and is yielding positive results. In 1985 there were practically less than 300 mountain gorillas left in the wild worldwide. Today the number sits at around 880 mountain gorillas in the forests bordering Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With Uganda leading with half the number, Rwanda and congo sharing the other half. Rwanda is proving to be a great example of conservation in East Africa, not just for mountain gorillas, but for wildlife as a whole – with the Big 5 now all in Akagera National Park.
There is nothing that can prepare you for seeing these remarkable creatures and getting to spend a magical hour with them as they go about their daily life. It’s a breath taking life experience that you will never literally forget. Make your way to the gorilla habitat today for your gorilla safaris.