There are only around 880 mountain gorillas left in the world, which means that every new gorilla birth is cause for celebration. And that's just what happens each year in Rwanda during Kwita Izina, a naming ceremony held for all the baby gorillas who were born in the previous 12 months in the country.
The 10th annual celebration took place earlier this week in the foothills of the Virunga Mountains in Kinigi, and has become one of the country's biggest national events (over 40,000 people attended, according to the Rwandan Government). The naming ceremony was inspired by traditional celebrations following the birth of a (human) baby, and launched by tourism authorities and conservationists.
“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," Valentine Rugwabiza, the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, said in a statement.
Despite their paltry numbers, mountain gorillas are the only great apes whose numbers are actually increasing, according to National Geographic. In all, 179 gorillas have been named in the Kwita Izina ceremony over the years, which was helped draw attention to conservation efforts.
Among this year's newly named gorillas were Nkurunziza (whose name means “good news”), Tebuka (“be quick”), Kwigira (“self reliance”), Kundurwanda (“Love Rwanda”) and Imikino ("competitive sport," so-named because Kwita Izina took place during the World Cup this year).
For photos of some of the year's new crop of mountain gorillas and their naming ceremony, click through the gallery above.
Just west of Rwanda in neighbouring Congo is Virunga National Park, home to many of the world's mountain gorillas. A new documentary called Virunga follows efforts of conservationists and park rangers fighting to protect the habitat from poachers, militias and oil exploration (UK-based oil company SOCO recently committed to ending its operations there). Here's the trailer for the film: