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Rwanda government name 23 baby gorillas at annual ceremony

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- At least 23 baby gorillas were named Friday at the annual gorilla naming ceremony commonly known as Kwita Izina in Musanze district, northern Rwanda.

The gorillas were named by different personalities from Rwanda and beyond.

They included international conservationists, sports personalities, renowned philanthropists and diplomats.

The named primates were born between July 2017 and June 2018, according to information from Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Speaking at the event, Clare Akamanzi, chief executive officer at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said that last year Rwanda came up with a transformation strategy, and tourism sector was chosen as one of the potentials to drive economic and social development of the country.

"Today we are celebrating the life of baby gorillas and the success of conservation in our country.

"Baby gorilla naming is part of our efforts to define our country’s destiny," she added.

Akamanzi said the country is targeting tourists cross the globe including Chinese tourists through "Visit Rwanda" brand in order to reach its tourism revenues target of 800 million U.S dollars by 2024.

The theme of this year’s Kwita Izina, a uniquely Rwandan event introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla, is: Conservation is Life.

According to Belise Akariza, the chief of tourism department at Rwanda Development Board, by 2024 Rwanda aims to expand the home of gorillas, the Volcanoes National Park, by almost 25 percent, enable Rwanda’s gorilla population to grow by 15 to 20 percent and reduce infant gorilla mortality by 50 percent.

The annual event has become a major tourism ceremony in the small central African country.

It has boosted efforts to conserve endangered mountain gorillas which have enabled Rwanda to tap tourism revenues hinged on conservation.

The ceremony’s main goal is to help monitor each individual gorilla and their groups in their natural habitat, according to RDB.

The chief guest at the ceremony, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente urged sustained conservation efforts for broader benefits.

"This ceremony is not just about tourism and travel.

"It is about our people.

"When we protect our environment and our gorillas we help our people to improve their well being.

"Indeed where there is peaceful co-existence of wildlife and people, there are mutual benefits," he said.

Revenue from gorilla tickets increased by 14.1 percent in 2017 while permit sales slightly rose by 3.5 percent, according to RDB recent report.

The report shows that last year Rwanda’s tourism generated 438 million U.S. dollars.

Gorillas contribute about 90 percent of tourism revenues from Rwanda national parks, according to RDB.

RDB says due to conservation efforts, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla has increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010.
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UPDATE:

Chinese envoy names baby gorilla at Rwanda’s annual conservation event

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda Rao Hongwei on Friday joined other dignitaries from across the globe to give names to 23 baby gorillas at an annual Rwanda gorilla conservation event.

The ceremony was graced by Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente and attracted thousands of Rwandans, members of the diplomatic corps, foreign dignitaries, sports personalities, philanthropists and conservation enthusiasts.

Rao named a baby gorilla "Uburumbuke," which means prosperity.

He also gave the baby gorilla a Chinese nickname as "Wang Wang," also meaning prosperity, during the annual baby gorilla naming ceremony commonly known as Kwita Izina that was held for the 14th time.

The theme of this year’s Kwita Izina, a uniquely Rwandan event introduced in 2005 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorilla is under the theme; Conservation is Life.

Rwanda’s tourism sector generated 438 million U.S dollars in 2017; however the country targets to double tourism receipts to 800 million U.S. dollars by 2024, according to Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Gorillas contribute about 90 percent of tourism revenues from Rwanda national parks, according to RDB.

The population of mountain gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, increased by 25 percent from 480 in 2010 to 604 in 2016, according to a latest census commissioned by the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration (GVTC).
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