Gorilla naming 'Kwita Izina' preparations in high gear
(Kigali, Rwanda) According to Bonny Mukombozi of New Times ground preparations for this year’s gorilla naming ceremony, popularly known as Kwita Izina, are in high gear at the foothill of Virunga Massif.
Last week, Rwandan Development Board (RDB), organised a meeting with local authorities in preparation for the ninth edition of the annual event, scheduled for June 16 at the usual venue –the misty Kinigi, Musanze District.
This year, 20 baby gorillas are expected to be given names in yet another event that is expected to attract world’s conservationists, government leaders, musicians and several other guests.
“(The gorilla naming ceremony) has proved to be a tool for education about conservation and protection of the remaining mountain gorillas in the park. It also demonstrates how gorillas can benefit the local people,’’ said Janvier Kwizera, the community conservation warden.
Kwita Izina is not only an effort to raise awareness of the conservation efforts of the endangered species, but also to market Rwanda as an ideal tourist destination.
According to Kwizera, as result of the benefits from gorilla tourism and Kwita Izina, the local population is now involved in protecting the gorillas against poachers. Some of the area residents used to be poachers themselves.
Proceeds from the previous Kwita Izina events have financed the construction of three primary schools of Mugarama, Nyangwe and Gasiga, while over 50 classrooms were constructed through the revenue sharing scheme.
ANICO-Animateurs de conservatour’, a cooperative of local community involved in conservation awareness, last year, won a tender to prepare the site of the gorilla naming ceremony for Frw25 million.
“Our cooperative is composed of former poachers, beekeepers, farmers including the historically marginalised people,” said Pierre Celestin Nsingirankabo, chairperson, ANICO
Associations of rangers, handcrafts makers, bamboo growers with over 1000 members have been formed and benefited through the revenue sharing scheme.
Andrew Niyibizi, chairperson of porters’ club, an association of youth who carry luggage for gorilla trackers, said that the event brings more clients/tourists, thus “good business” for them.
The porters club has 223 members, divided into 9 groups, who carry luggage for tourists visiting the nine groups of gorillas. It’s composed of youth capable of hiking mountains, with the luggage.
For art craft makers, the ceremony offers a great opportunity to showcase their products, market and sell their unique products to the visiting personalities.
“Many women are now earning out of these handcrafts, they also showcase our traditional values, Kwita Izina brings us clients,” said Vincent Mugemana, chairperson of COOPAV, a hand crafts cooperative in Kinigi
Apparently all hotels, in Musanze town and Kinigi mountain lodges, have been fully booked ahead of the ceremony, which is normally preceded by a week-long activities, including cycling and unveiling community projects.
Rwanda is home to a third of the world’s remaining 750 mountain gorillas.
Studies show that mountain gorillas share 98 per cent of their characteristics with human beings.