It is stunning, moving, and heartbreaking. These are just a few words to describe the anguish and grief portrayed in a recent snapshot. The photograph shows Ndakasi, an orphaned gorilla, with Andre Bauma, a childhood friend and park ranger. In the moving image, Bauma sits with Ndakasi as she takes her last breath.
Ndakasi is not your typical mountain gorilla. She was well-known. A few years ago, you may remember a picture of her standing with another park ranger. Mathieu Shamavu posted a photo of himself with Ndakasi in April 2019 with the comment “Just another day at the office.” Shamavu gets to see things we can only imagine as a full-time ranger at Congo’s Virunga National Park.
Posing gorillas is one of those things.
Ndakasi was always a character and displayed human emotion. “Apes’ ability to read an expression of happiness suggests they can understand the meaning of human emotional expressions, indicating that despite 6 million years of separate evolution, apes and humans share a common emotional language,” says David Buttelmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. We learn more and more about the similarities between primates and humans every day. We can understand why Ndakasi and her park ranger pals formed such a strong emotional bond.
Ndakasi is a rescued gorilla. Only two months old, she was discovered hugging the remains of her dying mother, who had been shot by armed militia just hours before. Ndakasi, 14, d.i.e.d in the arms of her best friend after being in the care of rangers for over a decade. “Our beloved gorilla died after a prolonged illness in which her condition steadily worsened,” the park said.
Bauma softly p.a.s.s.e.d a.w.a.y in Bauma’s embrace. Bauma had held the gorilla as an infant after losing her mother 14 years earlier.
In light of Ndakasi’s childhood suffering, it was an honor to nurture and care for such a sweet creature,’ says the author. Bauma explains. One can argue she inherited her mother’s name, Nyiransekuye, which means “someone who is delighted to welcome others.”.
“It was Ndakasi’s kind attitude and intelligence that made me see the link between humans and great apes, and why we must do everything in our power to conserve them.” I am honored to be called Ndakasi’s friend. Her cheerful nature made me grin every time I saw her, as if she were a child. All of us at Virunga will miss her, but we will be eternally grateful for the richness Ndakasi gave to our lives during her stay at Senkwekwe.”
Daily Mail – Bauma
Many people wonder why Ndakasi was not released back into the wild. Because she didn’t have a family, she didn’t have a tribe. Due to this, as well as a lengthy recovery period, she was too susceptible to return to the Congolese forests.
Mountain gorillas can only be found in parts of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda in their natural habitat. The eastern Congo, on the other hand, is rife with fighting between armed forces. Ndakasi was rescued in a region that is home to some of the last mountain gorillas.
The Virunga National Park is doing everything it can to maintain the native habitat of these magnificent species, but it cannot do it alone. Keeping wildlife safe is one of their duties. They also make sure tourists are safe. According to the Daily Mail, “Virunga’s management has had to take extraordinary measures to keep visitors safe from the conflict in the region, protecting them with highly trained rangers and sniffer dogs, as well as working closely with communities that surround the park.”
Virunga accepts donations at any time to keep its park available to the public. Visit their website to learn more about how you can help.