23 August 2017

Rwanda Seeks to Raise More Funds to Support Gorilla Conservation

Photo: Gorilla Fund
2016 Kwita Izina naming ceremony.

The second edition of the 'Kwita Izina' Gala Dinner will take place on August 26 ahead of the official 13th Gorilla Naming ceremony slated for September 1 in Musanze District, Northern Province.

Nineteen baby gorillas will be named.

This will be the second time Rwanda Development Board (RDB) will be hosting the fundraiser event, and the target is to raise more funds to support mountain gorilla conservation efforts.

According to RDB officials, last year's debut fundraiser was a success and the Government managed to collect funds which were allocated to different conservation projects.

"Last year, we managed to raise a total of Rwf25 million from the sale of tickets and auctions which went into supporting three conservation projects in the country. They include the Mountain Gorilla Skeleton Project, the Establishment of a Sanctuary for Grey crowned crane and establishment of an eco-lodge outside Akagera Park," Belise Kariza, the Chief Tourism Officer at RDB told The New Times.

According to Kariza, the first two projects (the Mountain Gorilla Skeleton Project; and the Establishment of a Sanctuary for Grey crowned crane) were included in the funding schemes as projects that the government's conservation partners support.

The third project was put on the list of the investment promotion projects.

Kwita Izina Gala Dinner was launched with the aim to bring together conservation enthusiasts from around the world in driving economic growth through conservation.

Following the successful launch of the event in 2016, the Government implemented of improvements ahead of the 13th Kwita Izina week long ceremony, mainly focusing on raising awareness on the importance of protecting biodiversity and their habitats at the community, national, regional and international level.

"Our objective towards this year's Gala Dinner is three fold. We want to create more awareness of the conservation needs in the country for the sake of future generations, we want to provide a basic and long-term conservation solution of protecting the habitat of an endangered species, as well as encourage ownership and encirclement of conservation practices, both locally and globally," Kariza said.

Focus for this year

Officials say that the expectations are high for this year's event and that the focus of this year's conservation project at the gala dinner will be about the expansion of the Gorilla habitat.

"Given the current restrictions for a growing mountain gorilla population, we would like to raise attention and encourage the contribution of the local community in protecting biodiversity starting from the grassroots level to the elite groups," Kariza said.

The official said that as community projects formed around Kwita Izina are still ongoing around all the four national parks in Rwanda, there is more that can be done to directly impact wildlife in their natural habitat.

She said that they will, therefore, continue to show the importance of sustainable tourism as they believe citizens can greatly benefit from it.

This year's event is expected to attract senior government officials, high profile personalities in the conservation industry from around the world, as well as like-minded individuals (both local and international) who are passionate about protecting biodiversity.

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