Arsenal Players Name Gorillas at 2020 Kwita Izina

Kwita Izina

Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and other players from the U.K. soccer team named infant mountain gorillas in an annual ceremony hosted by the Rwandan government. Aubameyang, defender Hector Bellerin, and goalkeeper Bernd Leno each named one of 24 of the primates at the Sept. 24 event, known as Kwita Izina. The ceremony took place online this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“2020 has been a difficult year, but in spite of Covid-19, we have made Kwita Izina special in two ways, by holding it virtually due to the pandemic and giving the people that spend a lot of time caring about the endangered species the privilege to name the 24 babies,” Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi said in a statement.

The ceremony coincided with World Gorilla Day, the day American conservationist Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Center in northern Rwanda in 1967 to boost awareness of the endangered species.

Rwanda monitors about 400 of the primates from 21 families in its Volcanoes National Park. The reserve is within the Virunga Massif that stretches into neighboring Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo and is one of only two places in the world where the gorillas are found.

Since reopening to tourists in June, Rwanda cut trekking-license fees to $500 per person from $1,500 to attract more visitors. The cost will be revised back to $1,500 in January, the tourism agency said.

Last year, the East African nation reported a 17% increase in revenue from tourism, its biggest foreign-exchange earner. Tourist trips to go and see the gorillas, known as trekking, accounted for 14% of the US$498 million the country earned from the industry.

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