[imagesource: Mathieu Shamavu/Virunga National Park, via Associated Press]
Ndakasi, a mountain gorilla, quickly became one of the most famous gorillas for photobombing that selfie above.
Park ranger Andre Bauma had found Ndakasi as a baby clutching onto her dead mother.
More than a decade later, Ndakasi died in Bauma’s arms.
The Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she lived, announced Ndakasi had died on September 26, after “a prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated,” reported The New York Times.
She was 14.
Thankfully, between those two embraces, Ndakasi was able to live a rather large life:
Ndakasi became famous all over the globe after striking a pose with a fellow gorilla, Ndeze, and two park rangers.
The viral selfie photobomb was taken in 2019 by park ranger Mathieu Shamavu (the guy at the front of the picture in the title image) and posted to Instagram, where he had to assure fans that the gorilla’s selfie skills were indeed real.
I mean, just look at that gorilla on the right with its creeping little smile. What a magnificent poser.
By the time Ndakasi was gathering attention from delighted fans all over the internet, she had already lived a remarkable life:
She was born in 2007 as a member of the Kabirizi group, one of eight gorilla families living in the 3 000-square-mile park, which sits between Uganda and Rwanda.
The year she was born, there were just 720 mountain gorillas on the planet, according to the park.
Amazingly, that number has grown to above 1 000 now, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
In April 2007, at two months old, Ndakasi was found “clinging to the lifeless body of her mother, gunned down by armed militia hours earlier.”
People with guns are among the biggest threats to a mountain gorilla’s survival, on top of climate change, traps set to kill other animals, and human encroachment:
With no relatives of the infant gorilla present, rangers considered it too dangerous to leave her by herself.
They took her to a rescue center, where she met Mr. Bauma, the park said. “All night long, Andre held the baby close to him,” the park said.
Well, the pair built an irreversible bond over the years, with Mr Bauma saying once in 2014 that he felt like her “mother”.
Watching her die in his arms must have been a terribly sad moment:
Mr. Bauma said that getting to know Ndakasi had “helped me to understand the connection between humans and great apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them.”
“I loved her like a child,” he added, “and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her.”
At least Mr Bauma was there for Ndakasi at two of her biggest milestones: the start of her new life and her death.
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