AP

Congo park ranger tells of taking viral selfie with gorillas

Apr 27, 2019, 8:45 AM
In this image taken on Thursday April 18, 2019, Mathieu Shamavu, a ranger and caretaker at the Senkwekwe Center for Orphaned Mountain Gorillas poses for a photo with female orphaned gorillas Ndakazi and Ndeze at the the Senkwekwe Center for Orphaned Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park, eastern Congo. Shamavu has described to the Associated Press how he was checking his phone when he noticed two female orphaned gorillas, Ndakazi and Ndeze, mimicking his movements, so he took a picture with them. (Mathieu Shamavu/Virunga National Park via AP)
(Mathieu Shamavu/Virunga National Park via AP)

LONDON (AP) — A park ranger in Congo has described how he captured a selfie with two gorillas that went viral.

Mathieu Shamavu, a ranger at Virunga National Park in eastern Congo, said he was checking his phone when he noticed two female orphaned gorillas, Ndakazi and Ndeze, mimicking his movements, so he took a picture with them.

The gorillas look as if they’re posing for the camera and when Shamavu posted the picture on social media on Saturday it quickly clocked up thousands of likes and comments.

According to rangers at the sanctuary, Ndakazi and Ndeze were orphaned 12 years ago when their families were killed by poachers.

They were the first orphans to be cared for at the center, which according to Virunga park’s management, is the only place in the world dedicated to the care of orphaned mountain gorillas.

As the gorillas arrive in the sanctuary at a young age, they learn from their caretakers, said Shamavu.

“In terms of behavior, they like to mimic everything that is happening (around them), everything we do,” Shamavu told The Associated Press.

He said the caretakers at Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Orphanage Center try to give the animals as much access as possible to their natural environment, but they inevitably exhibit “almost the same behavior as humans.”

Senkwekwe is named after one of the wild silverback gorillas that was killed in Virunga in 2007.

The orphans need constant care, so the rangers live nearby and spend their days with them – feeding them, playing with them, keeping them company.

“Gorilla caretakers with those gorilla orphans, we are the same family,” said head caretaker Andre Bauma.

He said without their own relatives nearby, the gorillas treat the rangers as their family.

“They know we are their mum. They are a member of the family. We are their friends,” said Bauma.

Virunga is billed as Africa’s most biodiverse national park, spanning tropical forests, snow-peaked mountains and active volcanoes.

It’s also one of the last bastions of wild mountain gorilla populations. Parks in the mountains of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda have the last remaining mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

But it’s in eastern Congo, an area that has suffered from years of armed conflict.

Virunga’s management has had to take extraordinary measures to keep its visitors safe from the on-and-off fighting in the region – protecting them with a highly trained guard of elite rangers and sniffer dogs, and working closely with communities surrounding the park.

After a park ranger was killed by gunmen and three foreign tourists were briefly held captive, the park closed until it could secure the safety of visitors. It reopened in mid-February this year.

But all this costs money, and the state park says it wouldn’t be able to survive without private donations from visitors.

Virunga’s management hopes the viral gorilla selfie will help boost the park’s profile, and encourage more people to contribute to the vital work of conserving the mountain gorillas and their unique natural habitat.

 

Today’s Top Stories

AP

A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
1 day ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
8 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
10 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
11 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
12 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Congo park ranger tells of taking viral selfie with gorillas