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Giving these baby gorillas a name will help save their lives

Next month, 24 wild mountain gorillas in Rwanda will be named during a traditional ceremony that has become an important part of the conservation effort for the animals.

In Rwanda, a naming ceremony is traditionally performed when human babies are born. The Tourism and Conservation Department decided to apply this to newborn mountain gorillas after the animals’ habitat was destroyed and they became a target for poachers; the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists them as “Critically Endangered.”

baby Gorilla on the Back

By creating individual recognition of the gorillas, authorities have found, it is easier to track and protect them.

The efforts to increase the gorilla population have paid off so far: There’s been a 26.3% increase in their numbers since the 2003 census.

There are now more than 300 mountain gorillas in Rwanda’s Virguna Mountains, and the population has increased to about 800 gorillas across Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.

The names of the baby gorillas are chosen by people associated with the tourism and conservation industry, and traditional Rwandan names are chosen to match the character of the baby or the circumstances of its birth.

In 2005, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame named one of a pair of twin gorillas Byishimo, which means “happiness,” to celebrate the rare birth and survival of twins.

Rare twins Happiness and Gift, were named during Kwita Izina in 2005.

Rare twins Happiness and Gift, were named during Kwita Izina in 2005.

An East Africa Tourist Visa will allow international visitors to travel not just to Rwanda, but to Uganda and Kenya as well, so you can really absorb the different cultures of Africa. Tourists can also opt to take a guided tour from the capital of Kigali to Kinigi, where Kwita Izina is held, to learn more about Rwanda.

Read more Mashable.com

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