Kigali - Rwanda has stepped up efforts to conserve endangered mountain gorillas in a bid to tap tourism revenues hinged on conservation.
The country is set to give names to 22 baby gorillas including a set of twins, born late last year and this year in an annual tourism conservation ceremony locally known as Kwita Izina.
The event slated for September 2, the 12th of its kind, expects thousands to witness the ceremony on the foot of the chilly volcanoes mountains, in Musanze District, Northern Province.
Speaking to reporters, Belise Kaliza, chief tourism officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said that the annual event has been a success and continues to promote Rwanda's tourism potential while conserving mountain gorillas.
“Since we started baby gorilla naming, we have seen gorilla population increasing year by year. It has positively impacted the growth of gorillas and transformed the social and economic wellbeing of the communities surrounding the park, as well as boosted the tourism growth in our country,” she added.
She explained that the ceremony provides an opportunity to recognise the efforts of individuals, organisations and nations involved in the conservation of gorillas.
According to the Rwanda Development Board, the organisers of the function, international celebrities, conservationists and notable icons are expected to attend the gorilla naming ceremony.
Last year's Kwita Izina attracted 500 international and 20 000 local attendees, according to RDB. Since the inception of the ceremony, which rates very highly on the country's tourism calendar, the gorilla population has grown by 26.3 percent.
Gorillas contribute about 90 percent of the revenues from Rwanda national parks. Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born.
Names attributed to the gorillas play a significant role in the on-going programme of monitoring each individual gorilla in their families and habitat. RDB has also organised a series of activities focused on conservation and sustainable tourism as part of Kwita Izina 2016 which will take place from August 27 to September 2.
They include the naming ceremony, exhibitions, community project launches, and fundraising dinner. The general census of the gorilla population in the Virunga Massif is being carried out with results expected to be published in 2017.
The last registered gorilla population was 480 in 2010, revealing a 26.3 percent growth from 380 in 2003.