Two dozen baby gorillas were named at the 11th Annual Gorilla Naming Ceremony at Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park on Saturday. While giving these newborn primates human monikers might seem like an insignificant occasion, the Rwandan Development Board
reports it's actually a major reason to celebrate — and not just because these mini great apes are downright adorable.
The annual Kwita Izina, which is based on a centuries-old Rwandan gorilla naming custom, has been part of an effort to attract international attention to the important work happening in and around the Rwandan mountains, where the gorillas reside. Ever since mountain gorillas were discovered in 1902, their population has steadily dropped due to an destructive combination of man-made and environmental factors, including poaching, disease, and habitat ruin. According to the World Wildlife Fund
, only around 880 are alive today.
Rwanda has helped lead the way in East African wildlife conservation efforts, tracking its dwindling gorilla population while educating locals about their critical roles in protecting the apes. As a result, the Rwandan Development Board reports a 26.3% population increase over the past seven years, including these 24 fluffy infants. Their names are meaningful as well, reflecting the initiative's ongoing progress. Examples we know of so far include Icyifuzo ("wish"), and Guhuza ("come together"). Here's a list
of last year's babies and their names.
These newborn gorillas reveal the real world impact of why investing in wildlife conservation matters and offer hope for a promising primate future.