23 baby mountain gorillas born in the last 12 months will be named during the 19th Kwita Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony scheduled to take place on September 1, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has announced in a statement.
The event will take place on the foothills of Volcanoes National Park in Kinigi, Musanze District, joining the communities living around the home of the endangered mountain gorillas in the ultimate celebration of nature and conservation.
Since the beginning of the naming ceremony first held in 2005, 374 baby gorillas have been named.
According to the statement, this year’s namers will be unveiled closer to the day. They include notable partners, conservationists, international and local personalities, as well as dignitaries and friends of Rwanda.
The celebration will showcase Rwanda’s conservation efforts, including Rwanda’s successful low volume, high value approach to gorilla tourism that has enabled the gorilla population to thrive and provide better trekking experiences to visitors, according to the statement.
The Chief Executive Officer of RDB, Clare Akamanzi, noted that in 2022, Rwanda’s gorilla tourism was the best performing segment, adding that the trend shows that 2023 is expected to grow further and take the sector beyond recovery and towards national targets.
“This means the communities are benefiting more, tourists are getting enhanced experiences and the gorilla populations are thriving, thanks to all stakeholders who actively participate in their daily conservation,” she said.
Akamanzi added that Rwanda is diversifying its tourism revenues by promoting other tourist attractions and new offerings such as the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) and sports tourism industries.
According to RDB, the 2023 Kwita Izina will also bring to the fore efforts by the Government of Rwanda to improve the livelihoods of park communities while enabling wildlife conservation through the Tourism Revenue Share Program.
Initiated in 2005, the programme aims to guide investment in the areas surrounding the various national parks in Rwanda by ensuring that 10 per cent of all park revenues is returned to the communities.
Over Rwf10 billion (about USD 9 million) has been spent on more than 1,000 community-based projects around Akagera, Nyungwe, Volcanoes and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks since the start of the programme, according to RDB.
This year, the institution seeks to launch two community projects, including a maternity unit as well as a potato seeds collection and conservation unit for residents to access maternal healthcare and quality seeds in Muganza Sector, Nyaruguru District.
Other events that will take place as part of the 2023 Kwita Izina celebrations include the Rhino Velo Race in Akagera National Park, countrywide familiarisation tours for international tour operators and travel media, and a Kwita Izina concert.