Ndakasi, the orphaned female gorilla which was seen photobombing a 2019 viral selfie breathed her last on September 26, after a prolonged illness. The 14-year-old primate was brought to Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2007 after rangers spotted her clinging to her deceased mother, who was shot dead by armed militia. Ndakasi was taken to a rescue center in Goma where she first met her caretaker, Andre Bauman. During her last moments, in a heart-wrenching photograph, Ndakasi and Andre could be seen holding each other close. In 2009, Ndakasi along with another orphaned gorilla Ndeze was taken to the Senkwekwe Center where she lived the rest of her life.
Ndakasi gained fame in 2019 when she photobombed a selfie by park’s ranger Mathiew Shamavu, along with Ndeze, which went viral on the occasion of Earth Day. Ndakasi could be seen standing on two legs posing sideways with a cheeky grin in the photo.
Ndakasi the mountain gorilla became known the world over for her adorable selfie with a park ranger in Congo.Sadly, the beloved gorilla passed away aged 14 last week, dying in Andre’s arms after a prolonged illness which rapidly deteriorated. pic.twitter.com/fV68pMUUtC
— Calvin Mutsinzi (@CalvinMutsinzi) October 7, 2021
“Their playful nature was a reminder to the world of how much we see ourselves in these animals,” read the park’s official statement. It further stated that Ndakasi featured in various shows and films which includes the documentary, Virunga where she could be seen laughing her heart out when tickled by her caretaker.
Ndakasi, an endangered mountain gorilla at DRC's Virunga Park who appeared in ranger Andre Bauma's world-famous 2007 selfie, has died of illness at age 14, in the arms of her ranger friend Bauma. RIP Ndakasi. Thank you for your service and memories, Andre. pic.twitter.com/aerdjPMuVo— James Hall (@hallaboutafrica) October 6, 2021
Oh man, 💔 I can't even imagine how Ranger Bauma must be feeling. He has been looking after her for many years.— Stormy 2 (@GailAllan15) October 7, 2021
This is so sad 😞 there was a true bond between those two ❤️— Katinaction (@katinaction) October 7, 2021
As her friend and caretaker, Andre said that it was a privilege for him to take care of Ndakasi who suffered trauma at such a nascent stage. Ndakasi was just two months old when Virunga rangers found her in 2007. When Andre met the primate, he held the baby Ndakasi tight to his chest all night long. He provided the traumatized infant gorilla with warmth and comfort by clinging her on his bare chest. “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,” Andre said. He further said that Ndakasi’s sweet nature helped him in understanding the connection between humans and the Great Apes, and that is why humans should protect them at all costs.