The Congo ranger talks about taking a viral selfie with gorillas | News of the Grand Canyon

LONDON – A Congo ranger has described how he captured a selfie with two gorillas that went viral.

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

The gorillas look as if they were posing for the camera and when Shamavu posted the photo on social media on April 18, he quickly recorded thousands of "likes" and comments.

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

They were the first orphans to be treated at the center, which, according to the Virunga Park administration, is the only place in the world dedicated to the care of orphan mountain gorillas.

When gorillas arrive at the sanctuary at a young age, they learn from their caregivers, Shamavu said.

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

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

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

"The gorilla keepers with those gorilla orphans, we are the same family," said caretaker Andre Bauma.

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

"They know we are their mother, they are a member of the family, we are their friends," said Bauma.

Virunga is considered to be Africa's most biodiverse national park, encompbading tropical forests, snow-capped mountains and active volcanoes.

It is also one of the last bastions of the wild populations of mountain gorillas. The parks in the mountains of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda have the last mountain gorillas left in their natural habitat.

Virunga management hopes that the gorilla's viral self-help will help improve the profile of the park and encourage more people to contribute to the vital work of mountain gorilla conservation and its unique natural habitat.

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