Kwita Izina 16: Meet this year’s namers

One of baby gorillas that will be named this year . / File

This week on Thursday, September 24, Rwanda will hold its signature conservation event, the Gorilla Naming Ceremony, known locally as Kwita Izina.

It will be the 16th time the country will be naming newborn gorillas, but this time around the event will go virtual due to Covid-19 pandemic that has disrupted international travel.


The event normally attracts the big names in every industry, including conservationists, celebrities and ordinary people who, every year, ascend to Kinigi on the foothills of the Volcanoes National Park to name newborn gorillas.


Belize Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board told The New Times this week that Kwita Izina 2020 will honor the work of frontliners who spend time with mountain gorillas.


“This year we are going to highlight the work of park staff including vets, ranger trackers, and guides who work with communities to protect these wildlife,” she said.

This year’s Kwita Izina will be held on World Gorilla Day, which is celebrated on September 24, the day that Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center in 1967.

The Day encourages people globally to join the conservation efforts to protect gorillas in the wild. Gorillas attract thousands of every year and Volcanoes National Park contributes the highest towards tourism fortunes.

Last year, Rwanda welcomed over 1.6 million visitors, among whom over 17,249 visited the majestic mountain gorillas. The park permits sold were worth $25.1 million, a 25 per cent increase compared to 2018.

Total revenues from the country’s three national parks stood at $28.9 million and Volcanoes National Park revenues contributed 91 per cent of the all the parks’ revenues.

RDB says holding Kwita Izina on World Gorilla Day provides the opportunity to harness the global attention on gorillas and work with conservation and tourism partners to highlight what Rwanda is doing to protect the majestic animals.

As the outbreak has restricted movement of people, locals who protect and interact with endangered mountain gorillas will have a chance to give new names to born babies.

At least 24 babies will be given new names, and 24 guides, porters, veterinarians, and ranger trackers will name them.

The list includes seven women, 14 men, and it will feature special guests whom Rwanda Development Board haven’t disclosed.

The names include renowned guides such as the legendary Francois Bigirimana, the most experienced guide in the Volcanoes National Park who used to work with Dian Fossey, a job he’s been doing since 1982.

Here’s a list of the namers;

Angelique Nikuze, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Prosper Kaberabose, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Emmanuel Nzabonimpa, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

François Xavier Ndugutse, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Eric Kabeja, staff at the Volcanoes National Park

Honorine Uwiragiye, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Emmanuel Munyembabazi, Ranger, Volcanoes National Park

Solange Mugeni, Porter, Volcanoes National Park

Jean Damascene Hategekimana, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Odile Nyiraguhirwa, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Marie-Louise Mbabazi, Community Based Conservation & Education Specialist, Rwanda Development Board

Loyce Gashumba, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Jean Bosco Iryamukuru, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Felicien Munyemanzi, Ranger, Volcanoes National Park

Pelagie Mutuyimana, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Jacques Bisamaza, Porter, Volcanoes National Park

Fidele Nizeyimana, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Francois Bigirimana, Guide, Volcanoes National Park

Emmanuel Irakoze, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Faustin Nibishaka, Tracker, Volcanoes National Park

Dr. Antoine Mudakikwa, Retired Veterinarian

Meanwhile, tourism activities, including gorilla trekking, generated $498 million in tourism revenues, 17 per cent growth compared to 2018 where tourism receipts stood at over $425 million.

The Government has been implementing a tourism revenue sharing scheme under which 10 per cent proceeds from the three national parks goes to communities that surround the parks.

This year’s community project under the Tourism Revenue Share Program is a Rwf 62 million water project in Nyamagabe District that will serve around 315 households, a hotel and a guest house with a 20 cubic meter tank and 4 public taps for the community living adjacent to Nyungwe National Park.

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