A Mountain Gorilla is not what you would traditionally associate with Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) but when the Rwanda Development Board selected VWSA as a name giver for one of their newborn gorillas, VWSA gladly accepted.
It is an immense honour to be asked to name one of these majestic animals. Individuals or companies are selected to name a baby gorilla based on their conservation involvement either in Rwanda or in their own countries. Volkswagen’s commitment to conservation in South Africa and especially the protection of the endangered Rhino population was taken into consideration when they were chosen.
On Friday 1 September, Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director, Volkswagen Group South Africa and Dr Andrew Muir the CEO of Wilderness Foundation Africa attended the naming ceremony in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. The ceremony is called Kwita Izina, which is the term used for the naming ceremony for all newborn babies in Rwandan culture.
“Our long history with Wilderness Foundation Africa meant that for me it was an easy decision to accept this honour of naming a gorilla. It was also a natural decision to invite Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation Africa to accompany me on this experience. Volkswagen understands that the natural environment in which we operate needs to be preserved and that is why we are so passionate about our involvement with Wilderness Foundation Africa,” said Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director: Volkswagen Group South Africa.
The Rwanda Conservation Officials that work with these animals take the naming of the gorillas very seriously and choose names that suit the animal’s personality. Thomas Schaefer was given three names to choose from and chose the name Nsanganira which means, “well integrated into a new family”
“Volkswagen’s announcement in December 2016 to bring mobility solutions to the country of Rwanda means that Volkswagen is committed to bringing development into this young, politically stable and tech savvy population. But Volkswagen is not only bringing its production and automotive acumen to the country but also its commitment to conservation and the natural environment. Like Nsanganira, we plan to become fully integrated into Rwandan society at all levels.” concluded Schaefer
In turn Dr Andrew Muir, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation said after naming their Gorilla Ubudasa. “We are living in a time of great environmental uncertainty- our planet as we know it is under threat and we are facing a 6th mass extinction event whereby we could lose up to 20 % of all species on this earth by the year 2050. This has great consequences on us as a species. Rwanda, like South Africa, is a country of great biodiversity and the people of this remarkable country have developed a unique model for conservation, which in many ways Ubudasa symbolizes. We as Africans need to show the world how to bridge the gap between Nature and People; how our national pride and Ubuntu and respect for all living things teaches us how to tread softly on this earth and to ensure a future for us all.”