Newborn baby gorillas don’t happen every day in Rwanda, but, when they do, it’s as good a reason as any to throw a festival. It’s understandable that the country would make a big deal out of every new ape that’s born – they are one of the most endangered species in the world.
There are currently around 800 gorillas still living in the forests of Africa – making each new addition the population an important event.
The festival used to celebrate a baby gorillas arrival is know as Kwita Izina – based on a traditional African naming ceremony originally reserved for humans. In 2003 however, this tradition was adopted for the gorillas, allowing them to receive a name of their own.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the festivals held in Rwanda for every newborn baby gorilla are a small event. In fact, there are normally tens of thousands of local villagers in attendance, alongside dignitaries, heads of state and the occasional international celebrities. There’s a lot of music and dancing to keep everyone entertained.
Alongside this African tradition, the gorillas are also photographed and monitored as part of conservation efforts in the Virunga Mountains.
161 gorillas have been named over the past decade, their arrival into this world marking a 23 percent increase in the wild population of Africa. At this year’s Kwita Izina, 12 newborn baby gorillas will be celebrated and named.
While many threats do still remain for mountain gorillas, like poaching and habitat loss, the festivities are a great way to promote awareness of their precarious situation. Awareness which could lead to greater local efforts, international support and other means necessary to prevent the species from going extinct.
Would you take up the chance to attend a festival in honor of the newborn baby gorillas in Rwanda?
Image via Rwanda Development Board