Kagame made the revelation on Friday 24th 2021 during the ceremony to name 24 baby gorillas held virtually to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The President highlighted that the success of gorilla conservation in Rwanda shows the good that can be achieved through community participation and the right partnerships.
“I wish to thank all collaborators, in Rwanda and around the world, for sustaining this excellent work over the years. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the way we celebrate Kwita Izina. But I am happy to see many partners and friends joining us today virtually to continue this tradition,” he said.
Kagame said that the pandemic has affected tourism where the country registered a drop in the number of visitors but assured that the important work of conservation continued.
“This includes the Tourism Revenue Sharing Program, which continues to finance valuable projects benefiting the communities around our parks. As visitors return, they will have remarkable experiences that match their high expectations,” he assured.
The President further stated that the country is testing and vaccinating as many people as possible to ensure that Rwandans and visitors stay healthy.
“Our aim is to ensure that Rwanda remains safe and inviting destination,” he noted.
The ceremony held for the 17th time attracted celebrities including players of Paris Saint Germain namely; Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Marquinhos and Sergio Ramos who named three baby gorillas (Ingeri, Nshongore and Mudasumbwa).
Bukayo Saka playing for Arsenal was also among namers participating in the ceremony.
The Kwita Izina gorilla naming ceremony reflects centuries-old tradition in which Rwandans name their children in the presence of family and friends. For three decades before the first official gorilla naming ceremony, park rangers and researchers named Rwanda’s mountain gorilla babies to monitor each gorilla in their family and habitat.
In 2005, Rwanda began officially naming mountain gorillas in what has become a global celebration of nature. By giving a name to these majestic animals, they are given the value they undoubtedly deserve.
The ceremony is also an opportunity to thank the communities that live around the gorilla habitat, Volcanoes National Park, research partners, vets and the dedicated conservationists, rangers and trackers who protect the gorillas daily.
Since 2005, a total of Rwf6.5 billion have been pumped into 780 projects in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure, education, provision of decent shelters for vulnerable residents, building health centers, promoting livestock farming, beekeeping and crafts among others.
Despite unprecedented effects occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic, Rwf700 million were invested in 30 projects in the areas of infrastructure and agriculture this year.
Rwanda’s tourism sector earned US$121 million in 2020 down from US$498 of 2019.
Over the last sixteen years, more than 300 mountain gorillas have been named.
Today, Kwita Izina forms part of an ambitious strategy to preserve Rwanda’s natural heritage and further expand the role of tourism in the country’s transformation. As a result of the naming ceremony, Rwandans from all walks of life understand the intrinsic value of gorillas and their contribution to the country’s development.