Be part of Kwita Izina this WED - vote for your name choices now!

The ceremony of giving a name to a newborn human baby, commonly known as Kwita Izina, has been a Rwandan tradition for centuries. Three decades ago, the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks, and the people of Rwanda, decided to extend this ceremony to include the cherished, endangered gorillas of their country in which 1/3 of the total population lives. The names attributed to these animals play a key role in the monitoring program of individuals and groups in the habitat. The naming ceremony, which was launched as a public outreach campaign in 2005, is aimed at ensuring the future of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas and bringing global awareness to the plight of all gorillas and their habitats. We are thrilled to be a part of this important mission.

As Kwita Izina is the highlight of this year’s WED celebration in Rwanda, the Rwandan government has generously shared the privilege of naming two baby gorillas with the global WED community. This will be done in the form of public vote for the Kid’s and People’s Choices, and it begins today! The winning selections will be announced in Rwanda by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Don Cheadle and Climate Hero Luo Hong.

Learn more interesting facts about Gorillas


In the language of Kinyarwanda (the official language of Rwanda), means dignity. Gorillas share 98% of the same genes as humans. This name was proposed by Rwanda to express their honor in having and protecting this dignified and unique species. With this name, the people of Rwanda and park staff also promise to continue making this contribution with dignity as they call the rest of the world to join their effort for WED!


Kinyarwanda for choice. This name, proposed by Rwanda, highlights the intelligent choices Gorillas make in their day to day lives, from where they move to find the best seasonal foods to where their specific group lives. The selection committee also wanted to call attention to the fact that these choices know no geographical boundaries. Therefore, it is critical for conservationists and governments to conserve trans-boundary habitats. Celebrate the fact that we have choices and choose to take action on WED!


Iranian: twilight; Indian: shining; Ukrainian:life; Greek: alive; Arabic: God’s gift. This name was brought to us by a UNEPandYou follower on Twitter and represents the many suggestions we received that refer to life and light. Its inspiring meanings in several countries and languages underscore the importance of contributions from the global community for WED. Gorillas are a key species, able to bring light to the importance of ALL life forms on our beautiful planet from the smallest grub to the magnificent silverback.


Contributed by a Facebook follower who says, “short, sweet and great things come in small packages.” While gorillas aren’t exactly small - in the wild, the male gorilla can reach a maximum weight of 462 pounds/210kg and up to 4 ft.8”-6ft/1.4-1.8m tall - the name is an all-time favorite based on the loveable Yoda character in Star Wars! We felt it a fitting name for an equally legendary character.

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