18 Baby Mountain Gorillas Named In Kwita Izina Ceremony!

July 21st, 2014


Rwandans recently celebrated the birth of 18 baby gorillas at the 10th anniversary of Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony, which took place July 3rd. The event was held at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains at Kinigi in northern Rwanda and brought together more than 40,000 residents of Musanze District and visitors from all over the world. This year’s Kwita Izina was held under the theme: “A Decade: Conserving-Empowering-Growing.”

The CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza said: “We celebrate, for the tenth time, the growth of the gorilla family by naming 18 baby gorillas born over the last year, bringing the total population of the endangered species to over 600 in the Virunga Transboundary Parks.” Ambassador Rugwabiza added that the increase in mountain gorilla numbers is thanks to the tireless collaborative efforts of the government of Rwanda, the local communities neighboring the park, and conservation partners.


“We acknowledge the role of local communities in the sustained conservation of the Volcanoes National Park, specifically the protection of the gorillas and their habitat,” said Ambassador Rugwabiza. “We believe that in the empowerment of our local communities, we also gain sustainable tourism development.”

The 10th Kwita Izina was marked by a series of activities ranging from conservation, business, cultural and entertainment that led up to the big day. These included the launch of Basumba Primary School in Bigogwe, Nyabihu District. The school of six classrooms was built with funds from the Shared Revenue Scheme, which gives 5% of tourism profits from the national park back to the communities surrounding the gorilla habitat.


“You cannot succeed in conserving a critically endangered species like the mountain gorilla without the cooperation and support of the people who live closest to them,” said Craig Sholley, vice president of philanthropy and marketing for the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). Sholley, on behalf of AWF, was invited to vote on the gorilla names. “The Kwita Izina ceremony shows that, from the government to the local communities, protection of mountain gorillas stems from a sense of duty and a source of pride,” he said.

Over 100 regional and international tour operators and media came to experience Rwanda and took park in business-to-business meetings organized with RwandAir. These meetings led to business partnerships with local tour operators. In addition, Kwita Izina guests joined in Global Umuganda (community work) in Nyamata. They also participated in the Igitaramo, a community celebration with residents in Kinigi, Musanze at which local artist Jay Polly performed.

Baby mountain gorilla feeding, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born. The ceremony has transformed from being a local event in 2005 to becoming an international gorilla conservation event that also promotes tourism. Early this year, Kwita Izina won second prize in the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. In the nine years since the event was established, 161 gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect the majestic mountain gorilla.

Story Courtesy of AWF

The 7 Natural Wonders of Africa

July 15th, 2014

The new Seven Natural Wonders of Africa were announced in Arusha, Tanzania last month – here are the seven incredible places that made the list!

1. Serengeti Migration


The Serengeti (meaning “endless plains”) migration is the longest and largest overland migration in the world panning 18,641 square miles crossing Tanzania and Kenya

2. Ngorongoro Crater


Ngorongoro Crater is the largest unbroken volcanic caldera in the world stretching 12 miles across and rising 2,00 ft above the caldera floor. The crater is also famous for being home to over 30,000 animals including the rare black rhino.

3. Mount Kilimanjaro


Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world reaching 5,895 meters and has seven different peaks including Kibo Peak which features a 1.5 mile wide crater.

4. The Nile River


The Nile River is the longest river in the world stretching 4,132 miles and traversing 10 counties with the mouth of the river in Egypt and two other sources in Uganda and Ethiopia.

5. The Red Sea Reef


The Red Sea Reef extends over 1,200 miles and is home to over 1,100 species of fish.

6. Sahara Desert


The Sahara Desert is the largest hot desert in the world covering 11 countries and 3,500,000 square miles.

7. Okavango Delta


The Okavango Delta is created by annual seasonal flooding and is the largest inland delta in the world. The Okavango is also a recently recognized World Heritage site.

July Is Crane Spotting Month!

July 7th, 2014


The Cape winters are famous for the wind-free, sunny days that are common between the periods of rain. This is the Cape’s green season, and a drive though the farmlands is a favorite pastime of many.


Winter is also the time that South Africa’s national bird, the blue crane (Anthropoides paradiseus), are most likely to be seen in flocks. It is during the winter months that the families come together and the chicks are integrated into the flocks before the adults return to their nesting sites in the spring.


An estimated 50% of the blue cranes in the world – about 25 000 birds – are found in the Western Cape. That may sound like a healthy population, but the species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data List of Species for Southern Africa.


Over 10% of the Western Cape’s blue crane population is killed by flying into power lines each year and Fair Cape Dairies has decided to join forces with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) to do something to change this figure.


“July is blue crane month, so we are encouraging the general public to join us on the crane spotting campaign,” said Louis Loubser, Marketing Director of Fair Cape Dairies.The EWT has shown that putting markers on the lines can help, but they need to know more about the cranes’ movements so that they know which lines to mark.

The organization is fitting 15 blue cranes with radio tracking devices in order to get a greater understanding of their movements, and employing a PhD student to help to develop a conservation strategy for the birds. “But that is just 15 birds,” Loubser said. “We want people to help by recording where and when they see blue cranes and posting pictures and GPS coordinates, if they have them, to our Facebook page. The more we know about our magnificent national bird, the more likely it will be gracing our farmlands for generations to come,” he said.


Story Courtesy of African Geographic

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