Rwanda has over the years welcomed thousands of enthusiastic international, regional and local visitors to her Volcanoes National Park magnetized by the endangered mountain gorilla. The Government of Rwanda, via the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in collaboration with various conservation partners comprising the business community, communities and local and international NGOs, has been actively protecting these species and their habitat. Conservation is high on the national agenda, not only for the protection of mountain gorillas and other keystone species, but also their habitats and ecosystems. This is in line with the Rwandan Government key development agendas whose key pillar is on tourism and other productive sectors.
Every year the Rwandan Government holds the Kwita Izina – naming ceremony of Mountain Gorillas which is modeled on the centuries old tradition and culture of naming new born babies. Names attributed to the gorillas play a significant role in the on-going program of monitoring each individual gorilla in their families and habitat. The uniquely Rwandan event, was introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts of the endangered mountain gorilla. For three decades prior to the first official gorilla naming ceremony, the naming of newborn gorillas was carried out with little awareness amidst the public or the rangers and researchers that closely monitor these unique animals on a daily basis. Save-the-Gorillas
The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony has grown into an event of international acclaim with thousands of international, regional and domestic tourists taking part at the foot of the Virunga Mountains. This year’s event is the tenth Annual Kwita Izina.
On 1 July 2014, RDB hosted the Tenth Kwita Izina, naming eighteen (18) baby gorillas, the newest arrivals born after last year’s naming ceremony. In line with the United Nations World Tourism Organization – World Tourism Day theme, the theme for 2014 was Kwita Izina – a decade: “Conserving – Empowering – Growing.” This theme also reflected and celebrated deliberate efforts of institutions and individual who have contributed to regional growth and conservation of wildlife.
This resonates with Trademark East Africa’s ( TMEA ) effort to growing East Africa’s prosperity through trade. TMEA was nominated to participate and name a baby Gorilla in the 2014 Kwita Izina ceremony. This is a reflection of the support that TMEA has provided to the East African Tourism Sector through the East Africa Tourism platform. TMEA was represented by Ms. Lisa Karanja – Senior Director Business Competitiveness, and during the ceremony she named her Baby Gorilla, Umutaka. The name can be translated as “Umbrella”. The name was chosen to highlight that mountain gorillas are species serving to make conservation related decisions, in Virunga Massif. Protecting mountain gorillas indirectly protects the many other species that make up the ecological community of its habitat. Other notable invited guests during this year’s ceremony included policy makers from the region, Ambassadors from key tourism markets, athlete’s, celebrities, the private sector, security organs and RDB staff.