GRASP Names Gorilla in Rwanda Ceremony
GRASP coordinator Doug Cress took part in Rwanda’s 9th annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony (“Kwita Izina”) held to commemorate the new Mountain gorilla infants and social groups. Cress joined other delegates such as Earth Institute director Jeffrey Sachs, U.N. World Tourism Organization director Dr. Taleb Rifai, and Nigerian actor Noah Ramsey in announcing the names on June 22 before a crowd of over 25,000 at the Volcanoes National Park.
The ceremony, which is organized by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), designated 12 infants and one social group for names in 2013.
Cress chose the name “Iraje” (“newcomer”) for an infant female gorilla born on April 30 to Umuhanga from the Karisimbi A social group.
Over 400 international guests attended the 2013 Kwita Izina celebrations, some traveling from Jamaica, India, Netherlands, and the United States. Other delegates who named gorillas included Dutch model and actress Lieke van Lexmond and Japanese Ambassador H.E. Kazuya Ogawa.
The Gorilla Naming Ceremony is indicative of the growth of tourism in Rwanda and the Mountain gorillas’ role in that growth. Within the last year, the tourism sector generated USD $281.8 million, an increase of 17% from the year before. Local communities received 5% of this amount through the revenue sharing program, including 40% to people living around Volcanoes National Park, 30% to Akagera National Park, and 30% to Nyungwe National Park.