Virtual Gorilla Naming in Rwanda


24 baby gorillas named virtually in Rwanda

24 baby gorillas were named in a virtual gorilla naming ceremony on 20th September 2020 in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. For the first time in fifteen years, Rwanda Development Board held a successful Virtual Kwita Izina ceremony amidst the covid19 pandemic. Rwanda closed all public gathering in the country since March 2020 in a bid to contain and stop the further spread of the deadly corona virus. Initially, Kwita Izina has been one of Rwanda’s iconic ceremonies, which would attract thousands of travelers, celebrities and conservationists from all parts of the world. This time around, there was no physical crowd at Kinigi park headquarters. People watched and enjoyed this annual experience right from their sitting rooms. The celebration was live on Rwanda’s local television channels; radios and the you tube channel of Rwanda Development Board. Over 500 people viewed the live video on that single day but the viewership has increased to over 1000 after one week. A few people including the park wardens, rangers, porters, trackers and gorilla doctors reported were present at the park headquarters.

Virtual gorilla ceremony in RwandaSince the initiation of the Kwita Izina ceremony in 2005, over 300 mountain gorillas have been named at Kinigi head qauters of Volcanoes National Park. Different celebrities have often been invited to name individual baby gorillas. The name of the baby gorilla are in Kinyarwanda with a special meaning referring to what happened in the past, the current situation or future prediction.

Arsenal players name gorillas in a virtual ceremony
Despite it being virtual, some celebrities including players in arsenal football club named the bay gorillas. Among the arsenal players who named baby gorillas are Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Bernd Leno and Hector Bellerin. Aubameyang, the striker named the bay gorilla Igitego (translated at a goal) from Mafunzo family. This was attributed to the conservation success story that Rwanda has achieved over time since the start of gorilla tourism in the country.

More so, defender Bellerin named the baby gorilla Iriza (First Born). Iriza baby girl is from Kwitonda gorilla family. Bernd, the goalkeeper of Arsenal football club named the bay gorilla Myugariro (Defender). Myugariro is born from Amahoro gorilla family. All players expressed their love for the gorillas and how they cannot wait to visit them in Volcanoes National Park.

Other people who took part in 2020 gorilla naming
Besides arsenal players, the other people who participated in gorilla naming ceremony include Fidele Nizeyimana named the bay gorilla Amabwiriza born from Muhoza family . Amabwiriza translates as guidelines and Fidele is a tracker at Volcanoes National Park. Another bay gorilla was named Kororoka meaning Prolific attributed to its mother Ubufatanye who has given birth three times despite her young age. Kororoka from Musilikale family was named by Honorine Uwiragyiye also a tracker in Volcanoes National Park. Umusanzu baby gorilla from Igisha family was named by Maria Louise Mbabazi. Umusanzu translates as contribution in recognition of great roles of tourism in Rwanda such as creation of employment opportunities and generating the country’s foreign exchange earning hence increased Gross Domestic Product. Another baby gorilla was named Umuganga meaning gorilla doctor. Umuganga born to Agashya gorilla family was named by Antoine Mudakikwa a retired veterinarian. The baby gorilla was named in honor of retiring of veterinary doctors who have dedicated themselves to save the lives of endangered gorillas

Rwanda’s partnership with Arsenal Football club
In 2018, Rwanda Development Board signed a 3 three partnership with Arsenal football club. The deal was to promote Rwanda tourism to the outside world through the popular Arsenal. The “Visit Rwanda “ logo features on the sleeves of arsenal players and its a great marketing strategy for Rwanda Tourism Board. Coming to two years of partnership, thousands of Arsenal football fans have to won about gorilla tourism in Rwanda and many have so far visited Rwanda to enjoy an encounter with the endangered gorillas.

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda
Gorilla tours to Volcanoes National Park are the leading tourist activity in the land of a thousand hills. The experience attracts over 80% of the total travelers who visit this small country. Rwanda is one of the three destinations where the endangered gorillas live. The park is home to 10 habituated gorilla families, which guarantee 80 gorilla permits available everyday. Despite the high cost of trekking gorillas in Rwanda at $1500, travelers have continued to visit Rwanda gorillas. Also, Volcanoes National Park is located roughly 2 hours from Kigali International Airport, which makes it the closest gorilla safari destination in Africa. Mots time travelers especially those doing a 1 Day gorilla trek find it suitable to trek gorillas in Rwanda compared to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Conclusively, the one of its kind virtual gorilla naming in Rwanda was a success. We congratulate Rwanda Development Board upon this success.

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