Home / U.S. / & # 39; Gorilla selfie & # 39 ;: the ranger of the DRC explains a photo that went viral | World News

& # 39; Gorilla selfie & # 39 ;: the ranger of the DRC explains a photo that went viral | World News

They pout, tilt their heads and turn one hip towards the camera to get a slimmer silhouette, and their brown hair catches the light as they pose for a selfie.

But these are not tourists: they are Ndakazi and Ndeze, two orphaned gorillas in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And they forgot to suck their bellies.

The "selfie gorilla" went viral after it was shared by Mathieu Shamavu, the gamekeeper who captured it.

Shamavu said he was checking his phone when he noticed that Ndakazi and Ndeze imitated his movements behind them, so they took a picture with them.

Virunga, the oldest national park in Africa, is home to a rare population of about 1,000 mountain gorillas, but its location in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo means that both they and the rangers who protect and care for them run a constant risk. Poaching, illegal smuggling of coal and the threat of the Mai-Mai militias are some of the threats to their survival.

According to the sanctuary park rangers, Ndakazi and Ndeze were the first to be cared for at the Orphanage Center of Forilla Mountain Senkwekwe, the only one of its kind in the world. Nkakazi and Ndeze were orphaned 12 years ago when their families were killed by poachers.

Because gorillas have such close contact with rangers and keepers from a young age, they learn to imitate humans.

"In terms of behavior, they like to imitate everything that is happening, everything we do," Shamavu said.

He said that the caretakers of the orphanage try to give the animals the greatest possible access to their natural environment, but inevitably exhibit "almost the same behavior as humans."

They need constant attention, so the rangers live nearby and spend their days feeding them, playing with them, keeping them company.

"The gorilla keepers with those gorilla orphans, we are the same family," said Andre Bauma, the main caregiver. "They know we are their mother, they are a member of the family, we are their friends."

Virunga is Africa's most biodiverse national park, encompassing tropical forests, snow-capped mountains and active volcanoes. It is also one of the last houses of wild mountain gorillas, with other wild populations in other parts of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.

The Virunga administration has had to take extraordinary measures to keep its visitors safe from clashes in the region, protecting them with a highly trained guard of elite rangers and sniffer dogs, in addition to working closely with the communities surrounding the park.

Last May, a ranger killed a forest ranger, and two British tourists and a Congolese driver were briefly held captive. The park was closed until it could guarantee the safety of visitors and was reopened in mid-February.

The park, which is based on donations from private visitors, used its "gorilla selfie" moment in the center to help raise funds, reaching its goal of $ 50,000 (£ 39,000) to commemorate Earth Day. .

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