Gorillas Pose for Amazing Selfie with Rangers Who Rescued Them

It’s true that taking selfies with wildlife is never, ever a good idea, but one photo that’s gone viral is a major exception to this rule.

The selfie, snapped by anti-poaching ranger Mathieu Shamavu inside Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, shows him and another ranger standing in front of and behind two mountain gorillas—who are also standing upright as they nonchalantly look toward the camera.

“Another day at the office,” says the description of the photo on The Elite AntiPoaching Units and Combat Trackers Facebook page.

The reason the rangers probably weren’t in any imminent danger is because they rescued the two female gorillas, named Ndakazi and Ndeze, as babies after poachers killed their mothers in July 2007. Ndakazi and Ndeze have lived since then in Senkwekwe Sanctuary, an orphanage for gorillas inside Virunga National Park, which is the oldest national park and the most diverse wildlife habitat in Africa. It’s home to about 25 percent of the 880 mountain gorillas that are left on Earth, as well as elephants, hippos and lions.

Ndakazi and Ndeze seem to think the rangers are their parents, the park’s deputy director, Innocent Mburanumwe, told BBC Newsday. As you can see in the photo, they like to mimic the rangers who’ve cared for them ever since they were just a couple months old. Standing upright on their two legs is “learning to be human beings,” Mburanumwe said.

Although some skeptics thought the selfie was Photoshopped or that the gorillas were really costumed humans, the park confirmed it is indeed real.

“Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky, so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities!” Virunga National Park wrote on Instagram. “Also, it’s no surprise to see these girls on their two feet either—most primates are comfortable walking upright (bipedalism) for short bursts of time.”

Mburanumwe told BBC Newsday he was surprised and amused by the gorillas’ posture in the photo.

What’s not at all amusing is that, while these gorillas apparently pose no danger to the rangers, the same can’t be said for humans. Since 1996, more than 130 rangers have been killed in the line of duty at Virunga National Park. Armed groups from Eastern DR Congo, a mostly lawless region according to the BBC, are based in the park and frequently poach the animals. In April 2018, rebels killed five rangers in an ambush. Most recently, attackers killed ranger Freddy Mahamba Muliro while he was defending the park on March 8.

The photo and the brave, important work of these rangers are truly awe-inspiring, but let’s just hope the photo doesn’t inspire anyone to try to take their own wildlife selfie.

“The caretakers at Senkwekwe take great care to not put the health of the gorillas in danger,” notes Virunga National Park on Instagram. “These are exceptional circumstances in which the photo was taken. It is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild.”

“Conserving Virunga’s amazing wildlife is a constant challenge for the park and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support,” writes Virunga National Park on Instagram. To find out what you can do to help support these gorillas and other wildlife at the park, visit the Virunga National Park website.

Photo credit: Mathieu Shamavu/Facebook

58 comments

Daniel N
Daniel N20 days ago

thank you

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Leo C
Leo C26 days ago

thank you for sharing!

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Marija Mohoric
Marija Mohoric28 days ago

Great photo, tks, but...

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Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn28 days ago

Many thanks to you !

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Frances Bell
Frances Bell28 days ago

Never safe to say that wildlife isn't a danger to humans, no matter from how young an age they were associated with humans. once the sex hormones kick in, behaviour becomes unpredictable.

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Deb R
Deb R29 days ago

The poor rangers...it is so dangerous for them.

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Karen H
Karen H29 days ago

Poachers should be fed to the wildlife. Like the poacher who was trampled by an elephant and eaten by a pride of lions.

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Erika M
Erika M29 days ago

Thank you to all who risk their lives to save all the beautiful wildlife.

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Rita Delfing
Rita Delfing29 days ago

To bad army's can't protect these parks this is a war worth fighting for.

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Gene Jacobson
Gene Jacobson29 days ago

As "cute" as the picture is, it's sad too. This is not natural behavior, that circumstances exist that put them into shelters rather than their natural habitat is horrible. These rangers are modern day heroes, poachers the scum of the earth. Said scum infecting the entire freaking planet in so many ugly ways.

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