5. Taking Care Of Orphans
In early 2009, Chief Warden Emmanuel de Merode and park rangers regained complete control of Virunga and set about raising worldwide awareness of the plight of the mountain gorillas there. Their goal was to raise enough money to build a facility for gorillas that had been orphaned and/or injured in the civil war.
Would they achieve their goal in a country already torn apart? Read on to find out!
4. Two Little Inspirations
By early 2010, the park had raised enough money and The Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center was soon built. Its first two residents were orphans Ndeze and Ndakasi. In 2007, Ndeze’s mother, Safari, had been found brutally murdered by armed men and set on fire, along with four other adult gorillas, including the family’s patriarch silverback Senkwekwe (for whom the center was named).
3. She Was Left For Dead
Ndeze, and what was left of her family, was found by rangers several days later clinging to the back of her brother. Because Ndeze was too young to survive without her mother’s breast milk, vets had to intervene and rescue her. That’s where rangers Andre Bauma and Patrick Karabaranga come in.
Read on to see why he thought she needed a hug.
2. They Are All Alone
The three orphans currently living in the sanctuary are the only mountain gorillas in the world who do not live in the wild, having been moved there as babies after their parents were hunted or killed by poachers. Gorillas are animals that typically live in a family unit and they’ll miss their family and often find it difficult to survive in captivity.
1. A Strong Bond
As a result, they develop a strong bond with their caretakers. Photographer Phil Moore, who took the pic of Patrick giving one of the orphans a hug said in an interview, “It’s amazing how playful and curious gorillas are, but they’re also very shy with strangers. Their caretakers ‘talk’ to them and even use a different a tone of voice with each one.”