A viral image of orphaned gorillas standing tall and posing for a selfie with the rangers has caught attention of the world. Reported in several world known media outlets, this is one of the rare incidents in which gorillas have been seen standing in a bipedal position just like humans.
The photo was taken at Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The orphaned gorillas were raised by rangers at the park’s Senkwekwe Centre after their mothers were killed in July 2007, according to the Virunga Foundation. They were two and four months old at the time.
The female gorillas stand casually behind park ranger Mathieu Shamavu and look straight at the camera, as another ranger, Patrick Sadiki, looks on in the background. The photo, first posted on Shamavu’s Facebook page on April 20 and on the park’s Facebook page two days later, delighted online users, who called the photos magnificent and the best selfie ever.
The Virunga National Park is situated in the mountainous eastern region of the DRC and was the first national park established on the African continent specifically to protect the gorillas in the area. It is known as a habitat of the highest percentage of the gorilla. The two gorillas in the photo were orphaned by poachers and are raised in a specialist unit at the park’s headquarters because they may struggle to survive independently, meaning they are used to human contact. You can plan a visit to the park with Congo Gorilla Safaris, one of the local tour operators based in Goma. A visit to the center is free if you spend your overnight at the Mikeno Lodge.
A team of 600 rangers work across the park to keep wildlife safe from poachers and human incursion, in a region which has been heavily impacted by war and conflict which has raged for more than 20 years. Mr Shamavu’s image was shared to the group Elite Anti-Poaching Units and Combat Trackers and has been shared 20,000 times.
Shamavu and Sadiki frequently share photos of the gorillas they protect on social media. It has attracted thousands of responses, with many praising the conservationists’ work and pledging to donate.