Kwita Izina is Rwanda’s annual gorilla celebrations, inaugurated in 2005. The whole occasion is intended to create awareness on the conservation of mountain gorillas, promote Rwanda tourism business, and empower local communities that are leaving around the Volcanoes National Park. Since 2005, Kwita Izina has grown from being a one day event to a week-long celebration with programmes that support conservation and community development and today its being attended by many people on a Rwanda Safari Holiday. In Rwanda, there are currently over 10 main gorilla families that are available for tourism purposes and ready for gorilla trekkers, some of these include the Susa, Sabinyo, Amahoro, Umubano, Hirwa, Kwitonda, Ugenda and Group Thirteen among others.
Before this, the gorillas were given names by trackers, rangers as well as the warden parks but the formal naming was kicked off by President Kagame himself when he named the twin baby gorillas, he named them Byishimo and Impano which mean happiness and gift respectively. Rwanda is one of only three countries where mountain gorillas are still found in the wild; the other two are Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These populations are spread out among four national parks: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Virunga National Park in DRC.
Since 2005, there are more than 180 gorillas that have since been named and each year it attracts over 5000 people from all over the world that wish to celebrate nature. The local as well as the international stars like Patrick Bergin, the CEO of African Wildlife Foundation has been given the opportunity to name some the gorillas. All celebrations are held at Volcanoes National park in Kinigi in the northern part of Rwanda. After the event became a whole week event, it revolved for instance the recent celebration provided the option of starting their Gorilla Tracking Safari by joining the Kwita Izina Caravan and the night before the ceremony, a public Igitaramo (party) was held in Musanze and featured local performers and a music concert featuring popular local and international artists to entertain the Kwita Izina participants.
Besides naming 173 baby gorillas and having a global impact on international media, Kwita Izina involves specialized tours, a community day to launch community projects, a community party showing local traditions, a conservation conference, and an exhibition of green energy initiatives. The event has helped increase the participation of 45 community based organizations in conservation programmes, improve wildlife data management, and provide additional resources for communities that actively participate in park conservation. The initiative has also developed partnerships with the private sector, which provides one third of Kwita Izina budget. The gorillas have been listed as some of the most endangered animals which is why they have to be protected if the government and the communities around the parks are to continue benefiting from their existence thus the reason Kwita Izina is a very important event in this case.
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