Given that apes are our closest genetic relatives, gorillas in Rwanda are also given names at birth! Not by their own mothers, of course, but by their human cousins. The initiative was started in 2005 through Rwanda Development Board and the big annual ceremony was branded “Kwita Izina”— which meaning “giving a name.”

The name bestowed on a baby gorilla plays a significant role in the ongoing effort of monitoring each individual in its family group and habitat. Naming them at an annual ceremony creates awareness of conservation efforts to save the endangered mountain gorilla both in Rwanda and around the globe.

The theme for this year’s Kwita Izina (September 1st) was “Conservation for Life.” During the ceremony, 19 lucky humans were given the opportunity to bestow names on 19 gorillas (including babies and adolescents).

Rwanda president Paul Kagame hosted thousands of international, regional and local participants to the ceremony at Kinigi in the Musanze District near Volcanoes National Park. The throng included conservationists, business entrepreneurs, government ministers and famous entertainers, as well as religious and cultural leaders from around the world.

Most (if not all) Adventure Consults safaris include gorilla tracking as a sign of support towards conservation efforts for this endangered species. As we wait to take you on safari to the gorillas, here are the exciting names along with their meaning that were given at the 13th Kwita Izina:

Uruyange: “Shiny”
Macibiri: named after Dian Fossey’s nickname, Nyiramacibiri.
Ubudasa: “Remarkable”
Umutware: “Leader” (honoring the conservation and leadership of HE Rwanda President Paul Kagame
Arakaza: “Welcome” (born while the family was in the Democratic Republic of Congo).
Iyamarere: “Enthusiastic”

Click Here for the complete list of 19