Rwanda stands out as a beacon of success in wildlife conservation efforts, particularly renowned for its commitment to protecting the rare mountain gorillas. At the heart of these efforts lies Volcanoes National Park, situated in the Virunga Mountains in the northwest of the country. This park, encompassing a striking landscape of lush rainforests and volcanic peaks, is home to over half of the world’s remaining mountain gorilla population. The park’s significance lies not only in its ecological importance but also in its historical connection to pioneering conservation efforts, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the most extraordinary experiences offered by Volcanoes National Park is gorilla trekking, where visitors have the opportunity to embark on guided hikes into the forest to observe these magnificent primates in their natural habitat. The revenue generated from gorilla trekking permits directly funds conservation initiatives, providing crucial support for habitat protection, anti-poaching efforts, and community development projects. This innovative approach to ecotourism has not only contributed to the survival of the mountain gorillas but has also fostered a sense of stewardship among local communities, emphasizing the value of preserving their natural heritage.

In addition to its conservation efforts, Rwanda hosts the annual Kwita Izina ceremony, a unique event that celebrates the birth of baby gorillas and promotes conservation awareness. This ceremony, inspired by the traditional Rwandan naming ceremony, brings together local communities, conservationists, and dignitaries to bestow names upon newborn gorillas. Held in Volcanoes National Park, Kwita Izina serves as a powerful platform for raising awareness about the importance of gorilla conservation, highlighting Rwanda’s commitment to safeguarding these iconic creatures for future generations.

Rwanda’s dedication to wildlife conservation has garnered international recognition, with accolades such as the Global Tourism Leadership Award and the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Award. These accolades underscore Rwanda’s status as a global leader in sustainable tourism and conservation, setting a precedent for responsible wildlife management and inspiring conservation efforts worldwide. Through its innovative approaches to conservation, including gorilla trekking and the Kwita Izina ceremony, Rwanda continues to demonstrate the profound impact of community engagement and ecotourism in safeguarding endangered species and preserving biodiversity.

Kwita Izina Baby Gorilla Naming Ceremony

Rwanda is getting ready for its 20th edition of Kwita Izina, a ceremony that marks the naming of newborn baby gorillas, held in Kinigi at the foothills of Volcanoes National Park on 6 September 2024. Every year Rwanda celebrates their newborn baby gorillas by honouring them at a Gorilla Naming Ceremony called Kwita Izina. Kwita Izina is modelled on a centuries-old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. In 2005, Rwanda began officially naming mountain gorillas in what has become a global celebration of nature. By giving a name to these majestic animals, it gives them the value they undoubtedly deserve. The ceremony is also an opportunity to thank the communities that live around Volcanoes National Park, the research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas. The Wild Africa Film Festival has included a day at the Kwita Izina Ceremony in the program and we are very excited to be a part of this incredible event.