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Kwita Izina 2020 – Rwanda’s New Baby Gorillas



This year, on World Gorilla Day, 24th September 2020, Rwanda hosted their 16th Gorilla Naming Ceremony. Known as Kwita Izina, the ceremony is named after the ancestral baby naming ceremony that took place after the birth of a baby.

The ceremony names each newborn gorilla and aims to help monitor each gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat. It helps bring local and international attention to the importance of protecting mountain gorillas and their habitats.

This year’s ceremony was held virtually and under the theme “Conservation and Sustainable Tourism – A Foundation for Future Generations”. 24 Baby gorillas were named.

For the first time since its inception as an internationally recognised event, the baby gorillas will be named by the guides, park rangers, trackers, veterinarians and park rangers – the front liners of gorilla conservation – who dedicate their lives to protecting and caring for them.

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame gave the closing remarks at the ceremony, saying, “This year, we bring a special focus to the rangers, trackers, guides, vets and porters, who protect our precious mountain gorillas. Their dedication is reflected in the 24 baby gorillas, receiving their names today. Conservation, tourism and community development go hand in hand. Each reinforces the other.”

Here are the names of the new baby gorillas and their meanings.

Amabwiriza – ‘Guidelines’

Amabwiriza is a male gorilla who was born on 3rd April 2020 to Iriba from the Muhoza family of mountain gorillas. He was named by Fidele Nizeyimana, a Tracker at Volcanoes National Park.

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Kazeneza – ‘Welcome’

Kazeneza is another baby male, born on the 12th of September 2019 to Akaramata of the Mutobo mountain gorilla family. He was named by Angelique Nikuze, a Tracker at Volcanoes National Park. Akaramata had moved to the family only a few months before giving birth. He is the first baby born to both Akaramata and the family which is why he was warmly welcomed.

Nkomezamihigo – ‘Keep it up’

Born on 21st June 2020 to Ishyaka from the Mutobo family, Nkomezamihigo was named by Prosper Kaberabose, a Volcanoes National Park Tracker. The name was chosen as an embodiment of the motivation and resolve of the heroes of gorilla conservation, specifically the rangers and trackers who never tire of their work protecting and monitoring the gorillas.

Uwacu – ‘One of us’

Uwacu was born to Isangano from the Pablo family of mountain gorillas on the 27th of May 2020. She was named by Emmanuel Nzabonimpa, a Tracker at Volcanoes National Park. When Isangano was born, she was assisted and surrounded by many of the other gorillas in the group as if recognising and welcoming the newborn as their own.

Murengezi – ‘Rescuer’

Murengezi is a male gorilla born on the 11th of May 2020 to Mudakama from the Urugwiro mountain gorilla family. He was named by Francois Xavier Ndugutse, a Tracker at Volcanoes National Park. The primary role of a male mountain gorilla is to protect his family. The Urugwiro group currently only has one male and little Murengezi will be expected to assist in this protective role when he has reached maturity.

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Duhuze – ‘Unifier’

Duhuze is a baby gorilla girl born on the 8th of August 2019 to Isaro from the Musilikale family. The Gorilla Tourism industry connects Rwanda with the world and her name was chosen as a gesture of gratitude to everyone who has connected to Rwanda through the gorillas and tourism in general.

Kororoka – ‘Prolific’

Little Kororoka was born on the 11th of May 2020 to Ubufatanye of the Musilikale gorilla family. Ubufatanye is an exceptional gorilla mother. She is a relatively young mother but has given birth to three babies in six years and has managed to raise them all. This name aims to recognise her contribution to the population growth of the mountain gorillas.

Indiri – ‘Habitat’

Indiri was born on the 21st of September 2019 to Mahirwe from the Kuryama family and was named by Emmanuel Munyembabazi, a Ranger at Volcanoes National Park. The gorillas’ survival and increase in population is dependent on how well their home, the Virunga massif, is protected and maintained. The name Indiri aims to make everyone aware of their responsibility to see the park as their home and thus respect it as such.

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Ubushobozi – ‘Capacity’

Born on the 21st of October 2019 to Kanama from the Kuryama family, Ubushobozi was named by Solange Mugeni, a Volcanoes National Park Porter.  The name recognises the impact of community empowerment developed through Rwanda’s tourism revenue sharing scheme that increases literacy and provides benefits to the communities living around Volcanoes National Park.

Amarembo – ‘Gateway’

This little one was born to Faida from the Kuryama family on the 21st of August 2019. The name refers to how Rwanda opens its doors to everyone and aspires Gorilla Tourism to be the main gate that is always open and welcomes everyone to Rwanda.

Ihogoza – ‘Cute’

Ihogoza is a baby male who was born on the 2nd of May 2019 to Bikereri of the Igisha family of mountain gorillas. Rwanda’s natural beauty used to be seen mainly from its magnificent hills, it is the Land of a Thousand Hills after all. Now, the biodiversity of the national parks has become increasingly recognised and this is amplified by the beauty of the mountain gorillas, hence the name ‘Cute’.

Umusanzu – ‘Contribution’

Umuzanzu is a female gorilla who was born on the 4th of August 2019 to Urucyerereza from the Igisha family of mountain gorillas. She was named by Marie-Louise Mbabazi, Community Based Conservation & Education Specialist of the Rwanda Development Board. The revenue brought in by gorilla tourism makes a significant contribution to Rwanda’s development. Gorillas play a very important role as a source of employment and other income opportunities for the communities of Volcanoes National Park.

Nkerabigwi – ‘Achiever’

Nkerabigwi is a baby male gorilla born to Icyeza from the Igisha family on the 17th of December 2019. His name serves to recognise the achievements made possible by Rwandans’ cooperation in and ownership of the conservation journey. It embodies Rwanda’s commitment to economic transformation.

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Impinduka – ‘Change’

Impinduka is a male gorilla and was born on the 5th of September 2020 to Ihame from the Amahoro family. He was named such because his mother joined the Amahoro group from an unhabituated group and managed to quickly change and become accustomed to human presence.

Isezerano – ‘Commitment’

Isezerano was also born to the Amahoro family on the 31st of January 2020 to mother, Muhabura. He was named by Felicien Munyemanzi, a Ranger at Volcanoes National Park, to recognise the honour and pride the gorilla protectors feel for their work. “Being motivated and dedicated to accomplish our mission, we take up the challenge. This is the commitment we give to the world in general and, in particular, to our nation.”

Nyiramajyambere – ‘Development’

This female baby gorilla was born on the 27th of February 2020 to Urwunguko from the Kwitonda family of mountain gorillas and was named by Pelagie Mutuyimana, a Tracker at Volcanoes National Park. Rwanda has embarked on its Vision 2050 and Nyiramajyambere is an example of the new generation living in a modern and digitised world. This new development involves all sectors, including tourism and conservation.

Ikamba – ‘Crown’

Ikamba was born on the 30th of September 2019 to mother, Aheza, from the Muhoza gorilla family. His name was inspired by the many tourism awards and conservation recognition that Rwanda has received on their journey of integrating tourism and sustainable conservation.

Izabukuru – ‘Elderhood’

Izabukuru is a baby gorilla boy who was born on the 30th of October 2020. He was so named because his mother, Gukunda, was very old when she gave birth to him.

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Ishya – ‘Contentment / Satisfaction’

Little Ishya was born to Gukina of the Sabyinyo gorilla family on the 11th of November 2019. He was named such because after three of the Sabinyo members went their separate ways, the family was extremely happy to welcome a newborn into the group.

Umuyobozi – ‘Leader’

This adventurous female gorilla was born on the 27th of October 2019 to mother, Inyenyeri of the Agashya family. This name recognises Rwanda’s commitment to leadership in conservation and tourism across the sphere, from national leaders to community members.

Umuganga – ‘Gorilla Doctor’

Umuganga was born on the 27th of January 2020 to Inyungu from the Agashya mountain gorilla family. She was named by retired Veterinarian, Dr Antoine Mudakikwa, to recognise the unwavering dedication, long service and outstanding work veterinarians contribute to the protection of the mountain gorilla population.

Igitego – ‘Goal’

Arsenal striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang, named this baby male gorilla. Igitego was born on the 5th of July 2019 to Pasika, from the Mafunzo family. ‘Goal’ embodies the belief that gorilla conservation and tourism is a win for Rwanda as well as the gorillas being a means to uplift the local communities of Volcanoes National Park.

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Iriza – ‘First Born’

Iriza is the first baby to be born to mother, Igihembo, hence her name. She was born on the 11th of October 2019 to the Kwitonda family.

Myugariro – ‘Defender’ 

Baby gorilla girl, Myugariro, was born to Kubaha of the Amahoro family, on the 28th of September 2019. The name highlights how the Amahoro group engages with non-habituated groups, how the group silverbacks defend their family members and the role humanity has in defending Mother Nature.

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