The eighth annual Kwita Izina festival is underway in Rwanda, with the baby mountain gorillas born over the past year to be officially named at the main ceremony.
With the main event set to take place in the Musanze district, to the north of the country, on Saturday 16 June, celebrations have already got underway in the communities bordering the Volcanoes National Park, home to some of the world's last remaining mountain gorillas.
As well as a high profile cycling race, the Rwanda Development Board is organisaing a series of educational events for both adults and children, with the aim of increasing local awareness of Kwita Izina and promoting the cause of gorilla conservation in general among the communities living alongside the gorilla habitat.
But it will be Saturday when the world's eyes will be on Rwanda as senior government officials will be joined by foreign dignitaries, media personalities and thousands of local people for the naming of the mountain gorilla babies. In all, 19 will be officially named, including the latest additions to the Sabinyo and Hirwa groups and the twins (right) born to the Susa group in May of 2011.
The Gorilla Organization's Rwandan programme manager Emmanuel Bugingo, who will be attending the gorilla naming ceremony, explains that what makes the Kwita Izina ceremony so special is that it is a public event geared towards raising awareness about gorillas and conservation issues in general, both in Rwanda and internationally.
"So, by hosting such an event, Rwanda is able to mobilise both local and global support for projects aimed at ensuring the survival of gorillas. What's more the money generated helps fund projects in and around the gorillas' natural habitat," he says.
The Gorilla Organization team will report on Kwita Izina 2012 on their blog from the field over the coming days.