Ndakasi, Congo’s selfie-famous mountain, dies gorilla

Kinshasa, Congo: Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla who famously posed for a selfie with a ranger in Congo’s Virunga National Park, has died 14 years after a long illness, the park said.

“It is with deep sorrow that Virunga announces the death of the beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, who had been in the care of the park’s Senkwekwe Center for more than a decade,” the park said in a statement.

“Ndakasi took her last breath in the caring arm of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma,” the statement said, adding that she died on September 26 after a long illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated.

Ndakasi, lies in the arms of her caregiver, Andre Bauma, before her death.

Ndakasi, lies in the arms of her caregiver, Andre Bauma, before her death.Credit:Getty Images

Ndakasi was just two months old when rangers found her clinging to the lifeless body of her mother who had been shot down by armed militia in 2007. Bauma comforted her the first night by holding her to her bare chest and he continued with taking care of her. She was transferred to the Senkwekwe Center after its creation in 2009 and lived with other orphaned mountain gorillas who were considered too vulnerable to return to nature.

Her life was shown in shows and in the documentary Virunga, and she gained internet fame in 2019 for a photo where she stood relaxed on two feet, with her stomach out next to another gorilla, Ndeze, and another ranger, Mathieu Shamavu, in the foreground, taking the selfie.

Mathieu Shamavu, a ranger and caretaker posing for a photo of female orphaned gorillas Ndakasi, left, and Ndeze, center, at Senkwekwe Center for Orphaned Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park, at the DRC in 2019.

Mathieu Shamavu, a ranger and caretaker posing for a photo of female orphaned gorillas Ndakasi, left, and Ndeze, center, at Senkwekwe Center for Orphaned Mountain Gorillas in Virunga National Park, at the DRC in 2019.Credit:AP

“It was a privilege to support and nurture such a loving being,” Bauma said in a statement. “It was Ndakasi’s sweet nature and intelligence that helped me understand the connection between humans and great apes and why we should do everything we could to protect them.”

Bauma said he was proud to have called Ndakasi a friend.

“I loved her as a child, and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her,” he said in the statement.

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