Kwita Izina –  “to give a name” – is the annual Rwandan ceremony for naming each of the infant mountain gorillas born in the previous year. The celebration first began in 2004, inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of families gathering friends to welcome a new baby. The annual celebration honors not only the new births of mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, but also Rwanda’s conservation success in bringing mountain gorillas back from the brink of extinction.

Taraja with her infant, Mafunzo group, Volcanoes National Park, May 2020. © Gorilla Doctors

Did you Know – Mountain gorillas are the only great ape in the wild whose numbers are increasing and this year Rwanda is naming 24 infants born in Volcanoes National Park!

This year, because of COVID-19, the celebration has gone virtual and will be live-streamed this Thursday, September 24th, which also happens to be World Gorilla Day. You can view the ceremony on Visit Rwanda’s YouTube Channel beginning at 3:00PM Central African Time which is 6:00AM PDT or 9:00AM EDT. Learn more here.

The following day, on Friday the 25th, Rwanda will be convening conservation experts from around the country in a program called Conversation on Conservation. This program includes Gorilla Doctors’ Julius Nziza, our Head Veterinarian who will be speaking about our work protecting the health of gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in the wake of COVID-19. Register here, program begins at 3:00PM CAT (6:00AM PDT or 9:00AM EDT).

Drs. Noel, Gaspard and Adrien remove a snare from infant Ineza, Volcanoes National Park, July 2020. © Gorilla Doctors

Did you Know – Gorilla Doctors conducts anywhere from 30 to 45 clinical interventions each year to treat ill or injured gorillas!

Growing Up Gorilla

When a baby mountain gorilla is born, Gorilla Doctors conducts the very first health check of the mother and newborn within hours of its birth. Growing up to be a healthy, thriving gorilla takes a lot of work and the first year of life can be full of challenges. The greatest threats to infant gorillas are trauma (e.g. snares, injuries) and illness. This year, Gorilla Doctors has treated multiple infants across Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo including the snare removals of infant Ineza in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda and infant Theodore in Virunga National Park, DR Congo. Both snare removals were successful and the infants are doing well. During a recent health check this week Dr. Eddy reported Theodore being very playful (pictured below).

Infant Theodore of Humba group playing during a recent health check, Virunga National Park, September 2020. © Gorilla Doctors

Every Day is Gorilla Day for Gorilla Doctors

We are privileged and honored to be the doctors who are saving gorillas’ lives, monitoring their health every day and watching over each individual. When Gorilla Doctors intervenes and saves a gorilla, it has population-level impact, helping contribute to their increasing numbers and the long-term survival of the species.

Did you Know –Gorilla Doctors veterinary care is credited for half of the annual population growth rate of habituated mountain gorillas (habituated = gorillas accustomed to the presence of humans which allows us to get close enough to administer medical care)?!

Munyana with her infant, Rushegura group, Bwindi, August 2020. © Gorilla Doctors

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