Rwanda to name 18 gorillas in annual ceremony

Kigali, Rwanda has announced that 18 newborn gorillas will be named at the country's 10th annual gorilla-naming event, which is aimed at promoting the conservation of the endangered primates.

Speaking at a news briefing in Kigali Wednesday, Yamina Karitanyi, head of tourism and conservation at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said this year's event, locally called Kwita Izina, will be held in Kinigi-Musanze district in northern Rwanda July 1, focusing on redounding to the communities behind conservation efforts over the last decade.

"We will not only celebrate the birth of one of the world's most endangered species, but also the efforts of individuals, organisations and nations involved in the preservation of these rare animals," Karitanyi said.

Rwanda's community-led conservation efforts have led to a 26.3 percent growth in the population of gorillas since 2003, with the gorilla-naming ceremony key to this success, Xinhua cited her as saying.

"The conservation practices and community ownership of projects around the Volcanoes National Park have seen beneficiaries empowered and their lives improved," she said.

Some 160 baby gorillas have been named since the ceremony started in 2005, and the country has a total of 295 gorillas, while there are 880 in neighbouring Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has invited the tourism and conservation authorities of neighbouring countries to attend the ceremony under the East African Community joint tourism marketing initiative, which is designed to integrate the region's tourism.

"We have invited the tourism authorities from neighbouring countries and beyond that we share the common goal as far as tourism is concerned," said Karitanyi.

Rwanda's tourism sector has been growing. In 2013, Rwanda hosted 1,137,000 visitors and reaped a revenue of $294 million, up from $62 million in 2000.

The RDB attributes the growth to Rwanda's attractiveness as a travel destination.
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