22 baby gorillas are to be named including a set of twins during this year’s Kwita Izina ceremony. All the gorillas were born last year.
The annual ceremony is set for 18 June, 2011, at Kinigi, Musanze District under the theme “Community development for sustained conservation. “We have registered a 26 percent growth in gorilla population since the last census in 2003,” announced Claire Akamanzi, the Chief Operating Officer at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
She said that RDB would, this year, underscore the importance of conservation among communities around national parks. “We have seen tourism grow over the years. For example, by the end of 2010, we generated US$200 million from it,” she said.
“This is extremely significant in terms of our export earnings within the country,” she added. Akamanzi observed that RDB had managed to convert several former poachers into farmers, a move that had boosted the safety and security of the Virunga national park and its surroundings.
Rica Rwigamba, the head of the Tourism and Conservation at RDB, said that similar to previous events, the Kwita Izina event, would be characterised by a week-long celebration. “We shall be launching water tanks that have been built (for communities around the virunga park) and a modern complex in Kinigi where the cooperatives will be selling their handicrafts and receiving training,” she added.
Rwigamba said that gorillas had contributed 90 percent of over Rwf 5 billion generated from the tourism industry last year. “The conservation of gorillas in the park improved due to Kwita Izina and we target to generate US$ 216 million revenues from tourism this year,” she noted.
Rwigamba maintained that the migration of gorillas to neighbouring countries like DR Congo and Uganda was not alarming since the three countries have a joint mechanism to monitor gorillas’ movements.
“I wouldn’t mind about the migration of gorillas because if it happened, we have a revenue sharing mechanism. Everyone is benefiting from them,” she added. Rwigamba disclosed that several notable personalities would grace the ceremony.
The week-long celebration includes a number of activities such as the Kwita Izina International Cycling Tour on 11 and 12 June, a conservation conference on 15 June, the launching of community projects on 16 June and a community festival “Igitaramo” on 17 June.