Social media sensations ‘Ndakasi and Matabishi‘ are mastering the art of the selfie.

The two gorillas at Virunga National Park in Congo looked extraordinarily human-like as they posed for a series of selfies with anti-poaching rangers who have looked after them since they were found nearly 12 years ago.

One photo shows the gorillas standing upright behind the men, while another titled ‘family time’ shows one of the rangers, Patrick Sadiki with the primates, Ndakasi and Matabishi cuddling up to him. 

Innocent Mburanumwe, deputy director of Virunga, said that the gorillas’ mothers were both killed in July 2007. Ndakasi and Matabishi were just two and four months old at the time. Shortly afterwards, they were found and taken to Senkwekwe Sanctuary in Virunga, where they have lived ever since.

Because they’ve grown up with the rangers who rescued them, Mr Mburanumwe added, “they are imitating the humans” – and standing on two legs is their way of “learning to be human beings”.

“I was very surprised to see it… so it’s very funny. It’s very curious to see how a gorilla can imitate a human and stand up.”

Ranger Mathieu Shamavu said he captured the image of the two primate posers at Virunga National Park, and it has since gone viral on social media among anti-poaching groups.

Unlike social media stars who are keenly aware of their audience and play to the camera at every opportunity, Ndakasi and Matabishi have a complete lack of awareness when it comes to their audience. This lack of awareness is what makes them truly fascinating to us mere humans.

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You might have recently seen caretakers Mathieu and Patrick’s amazing selfie with female orphaned gorillas Ndakazi and Ndeze inside the Senkwekwe center at Virunga National Park. We’ve received dozens of messages about the photo. YES, it’s real! Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities! 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. Guys, if you shared our gorilla selfie post, please share our Earth Day posts as well! Conserving Virunga’s amazing wildlife is a constant challenge for the Park and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support. Matching funds have been pledged on every donation to the Park today, up to a total of $25,000—giving us the opportunity to raise $50,000 for Virunga! Visit virunga.org/donate or click the link in our bio to get involved and keep sharing our posts! Thank you! *We want to emphasize that these gorillas are in an enclosed sanctuary for orphans to which they have lived since infancy. The caretakers at Senkwekwe take great care to not put the health of the gorillas in danger. These are exceptional circumstances in which the photo was taken. It is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild. #gorillaselfie #gorilla #mountaingorilla #mountaingorillaselfie #selfie #earthday #earthday2019 #virunga #virunganationalpark #congo #drcongo #rdc #drc #protecttheplanet #happyearthday #wildlife #wildlifeconservation #conservation #natureconservation

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Mountain gorillas are some of the most endangered creatures on Earth. They were on the brink of extinction because of the twin threats of poaching and habitat destruction.

Being a ranger is very dangerous work. According to the park’s website, the area has been ‘deeply’ impacted by war and armed conflict over the last two decades and so the fearless work of the rangers is crucial.  Five rangers were killed in Virunga National Park last year in an ambush by suspected rebels, and more than 130 park rangers have been killed in Virunga since 1996. Eastern DR Congo is mired in conflict between the government and various armed groups. Some of these armed groups are based in the park, where they often poach animals.

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