Veteran broadcaster and conservationist, Sir David Attenborough, is among the people to name a newborn gorilla at this year’s Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony.
Kwita Izina is an annual gorilla naming ceremony that celebrates the special connection between the people of Rwanda and mountain gorillas. This year, the event will be held on September 2.
Attenborough was filmed naming a baby gorilla yesterday at the Rwandan high commission to the United Kingdom, where he had paid a courtesy call on the high commissioner, Yamina Karitanyi.
The video will be aired at this year’s baby naming ceremony.
“If only we would collectively rise to mankind’s greatest challenge to restore what we unjustly borrowed in the name of civilization, the world would become a better place,” Attenborough is quoted in a statement as having said at the meeting.
According to the statement, the event was organized in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board.
Attenborough met with select guests to discuss conservation in Rwanda, his famous encounter with mountain gorillas in Rwanda in 1978, and the special place these remarkable animals hold in the hearts of people all around the world.
“There is no feeling that surpasses coming face to face with a great ape; their resemblance to mankind is uncanny. As you gaze at them, careful not to make eye contact, you become small in their presence and begin to appreciate the evolutionary process of life,” he added.
With only around 880 gorillas remaining in the wild, mountain gorillas are critically endangered and face many threats to their survival.
“However, thanks to the tireless efforts of communities, rangers, conservationists and government agencies, their future looks much brighter today than when Attenborough first encountered them in 1978,” an RDB statement reads.
According to the RDB, tourism is now Rwanda’s largest source of foreign exchange which generated US$318 million in 2015, and mountain gorilla activities account for 60 per cent of this revenue.
But the Chief Tourism Officer at the Rwanda Development Board, Belise Kariza, believes there is much more to it than a dollar value – as exemplified by Kwita Izina, a special ceremony held for the gorillas each year.
“Naming ceremonies for newly born babies have been part of Rwandan culture and tradition for centuries. Kwita Izina connects to these traditions to create a strong bond between the country’s people and the gorillas,” Kariza said.
Alongside these celebrations on September 2, she said there will be a ‘conversation on conservation’ forum designed to help stakeholders from Rwanda and overseas forge a great future for wildlife.