A mountain gorilla who became an internet star when she photobombed her caretaker’s selfie, has died at the age of 14.
A photograph of Ndakasi taking her last breath while being cradled by Andre Bauma, who rescued her as an infant, shows the bond between the endangered apes and those risking their lives to guard them.
She died on September 26 after a prolonged illness at the Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi, who had been under the care of the Park’s Senkwekwe Center for more than a decade,” the park said.
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Virunga National Park/Facebook)
“Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma.”
Ndakasi and Ndeze, who appeared in the selfie shot, were the first orphans to be cared for at Senkwekwe centre for orphaned gorillas managed by Andre Bauma, 49, in Virunga national park.
Ndakasi regarded Andre as her surrogate mother after he scooped her up from the floor of Africa’s largest rainforest in 2007 when she was weeks old.
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He found the infant clinging to her dead mother, who had been shot in the back of her head. She weighed 5lb 8oz (2.4kg) and was 18in long.
Few thought she would survive, but she grew to be a healthy 65kg and always viewed Bauma as her parent.
“Whenever she sees me she climbs on my back like she would with her mother,” he said.
More than 200 of the park’s rangers have been killed in Virunga over the past 20 years protecting the dwindling population of apes in the war-torn east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.