A mountain gorilla, whose image went viral after taking a selfie of a park ranger with a photo bomb, died at the age of 14.
Ndakazi “took her last breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend Andre Bauma,” said a statement from Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Tuesday.
She died last month after battling a prolonged illness at the park’s Senkwekwe Center, where she had lived for more than a decade, the statement said.
Bauma has been looking after Ndakasi since she was found on her dead mother’s body by national park rangers and taken to the center, which is known for orphaned mountain gorillas, the statement said.
Her mother was shot dead by armed militias as part of a series of murders of gorilla families, it said.
“It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving being, especially knowing that Ndakasi suffered trauma at a young age,” Bauma said in a statement.
He added that Ndakasi’s “sweet nature and intelligence” helped him “understand the connection between humans and great apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them.”
“I am proud to have called Ndakasi my friend,” he said. “I loved her like a child and her cheerful demeanor put a smile on my face every time I interacted with her. She is missed by all of us at Virunga, but we are forever grateful for the wealth Ndakasi during brought their time into our lives. ” in Senkwekwe. “
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Ndakazi made headlines in 2019 when she posed with another orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndeze, as park ranger Mathieu Shamavu took a selfie.
Virunga National Park posted the picture on Instagram shortly after it went viral and said, “YES, it’s real!”
It also told people not to be shocked by the poses of the gorillas. “It is also no surprise to see these girls on their two legs – most primates can feel comfortable walking upright for short periods of time (bipedalism”).
After Ndakasi’s death, the park’s statement said that massacres like the one that killed her mother had ultimately led to major reforms that “greatly enhanced the protection of Virunga’s mountain gorillas.”
Over their lifetime, their species grew 47 percent from 720 mountain gorillas in 2007 to an estimated 1,063 in 2021, with much of the population existing in Virunga, she added.