Kwita Izina
Kwita Izina
Mountain gorilla baby Kundurwanda (Love Rwanda) Via Kwita Izina on Flickr. Creative Commons
By CBC Docs  

Every year, 40,000 people gather in Rwanda for the annual Kwita Izina, a ceremony that celebrates and names all of the known mountain gorillas born the previous year in Virunga National Park.

Based on the Rwanda traditiona of naming children soon after birth, dignitaries from Rwanda and around the world are invited to name the gorillas, including former President Bill Clinton and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Last year's event honoured 18 births, up from 12 last year.  The names are chosen to represent the gorillas' importance to the Rwandan people and included:  Kundurwanda (love Rwanda), Ndengera (protect me), Kwigira (self-resilience), Inzozi (dreams) and Birashoboka (it is possible). (see the full list)

The baby gorillas, of course, were not in attendance but each was represented by a photo and celebrated with traditional dances.

Due to conservation efforts, the mountain gorilla population has grown by 26.3% since the last census in 2003. A recent United Nations study found that mountain gorilla tourism contributed towards wealth and peace in Rwanda. 

Learn more about the ceremony and see photos on flickr.

For more on mountain gorillas and efforts being made to protect them, watch 'Gorilla Doctors' on The Nature of Things.