Ndakasi, a 14-year-old mountain gorilla whose photo went viral when she photobombed her caretaker’s selfie, has died.
According to a statement released on the 5th of October, Tuesday by the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she died on September 26 after a protracted illness.
Here’s the tweet by Virunga NationalPark:
It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi.
— Virunga NationalPark (@gorillacd) October 5, 2021
The park stated, “It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, who had been under the care of the Park’s Senkwekwe Center for more than a decade,”
They further added, “Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma.”
The Senkwekwe Centre, which is located within the park, is the world’s only institution that cares for orphaned mountain gorillas.
Ndakasi stayed with other orphaned mountain gorillas until she died, as she was too fragile to return to the wild.
Since rangers discovered Ndakasi clinging to the remains of her deceased mother in 2007, when she was barely two months old, Bauma had looked after her.
Bauma stated, “It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age. It was Ndakasi’s sweet nature and intelligence that helped me to 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. I loved her like a child and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face every time I interacted with her. She will be missed by all of us at Virunga but we are forever grateful for the richness Ndakasi brought to our lives during her time at Senkwekwe.”
Ndakasi’s Early Life
According to the park, mountain gorillas were severely endangered when Ndakasi was born in 2007.
Her mother was killed by armed gunmen as part of a series of gorilla family massacres.
These mass killings led to institutional and protection reforms at the park that “significantly strengthened the protection of Virunga’s mountain gorillas,” according to a statement.
According to Reuters, more than 200 rangers have been murdered in the park.
The park stated, “Over the course of her life, however, the species has grown by 47 percent – from 720 individuals in 2007 to an estimated 1063 in 2021.”
They further added, “The death of Ndakasi underscores the importance of protecting gorillas in their natural habitat, where they thrive and where their life expectancy is greatest.”
Ndakasi appeared in a number of TV series and films, including the documentary “Virunga,” but it was her photobomb in 2019 that catapulted her to international stardom.
Ndakasi is shown with another female gorilla named Ndeze in the photo. The two look to be naturals in front of the camera as one strikes a powerful posture with her feet wide apart, while the other bends forward to join park ranger Mathieu Shamavu in the frame.
“Another day at the office …” Shamavu captioned the photo, which went popular when it was posted on Facebook.
Her species expanded by 47 percent over her lifetime, from 720 mountain gorillas in 2007 to a projected 1,063 in 2021, with the majority of the population residing in Virunga.
It’s heartbreaking to find that our beloved gorilla has passed away, but it’s reassuring to know that she was given the right care during her course of life.