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A Gorilla Story: Love, Loss, and Hope

The story of Ndakasi, a beloved mountain gorilla, is one that will pierce your heart.

Surviving a Massacre

At just 2 months old, Ndakasi was left orphaned. She’s the sole survivor of a massacre that left 1 silverback, 4 female gorillas and 2 baby gorillas dead. Soaked under heavy rains, Ndakasi was found desperately trying to nurse on the breast of her dead mother who was shot multiple times. She was clinging for dear life when park ranger Andre Bauma found her and sheltered her from the rain. It is also in his arms that Ndakasi will draw her last breath, 14 years later.

Image from BBC

Gorillas are Just Like Humans

Being one of our closest primate relatives, and even by simply looking at them, one can easily see the similarities between gorillas and humans. And for people who have spent years caring for gorillas and studying them, they do say that they have similar behaviors, personalities and societal structures just like humans do. You would be surprised to know that even with their big stature, gorillas are sensitive, fragile, and gentle beings.

Image from TMZ.com

The Viral Selfie

In 2019, Ndakasi went viral, endearing and charming many people from across the globe, when she along with Ndeze, another mountain gorilla, was seen posing for a relaxed selfie with the rangers who care for them.

Ndakasi and Andre

But it is with Andre whom Ndakasi shared a special bond with. Andre has seen her grow up in the care of Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla orphanage, a place that takes in animals who have lost their families to poaching and conflict. A team of veterinarian from the Gorilla Doctors is among the carers for these orphaned animals. The Senkwekwe orphanage is the place where Ndakasi and Andre will share many special moments. Andre, in an interview with BBC in 2014 said he loves Ndakasi like his own daughter and even dubbed himself as her mother. He shared the same bed with her, fed her, played with her and even taught Ndakasi how to paint. Ndakasi would sometimes hold Andre’s hand while he’s taking a break, as if giving him comfort like just like what humans do. 

Loving Arms

Unfortunately, Ndakasi fell ill about 6 months ago. She started losing weight and experiencing hair loss and she would have periods of not eating and diarrhea. The Gorilla Doctors and caregivers of Ndakasi did their very best and all they could do to help save Ndakasi. But sadly, she passed away September 26, 2021. As she was nearing death, she crawled into Andre’s arms and in his arms, she drew her very last breath.

“It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age. One could say that she took after her mother, Nyiransekuye, whose name means “someone happy to welcome others.” It was Ndakasi’s sweet nature and intelligence that helped me to understand the connection between humans and Great Apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them. 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. She will be missed by all of us at Virunga but we are forever grateful for the richness Ndakasi brought to our lives during her time at Senkwekwe.” - Andre Bauman

Help Save Gorillas

Mountain gorillas are critically endangered. It is estimated that only about a thousand is left of them. Their existence is threatened by poaching, conflict, habitat loss, diseases from human contact, and climate change. The Gorilla Doctors has been at the forefront in the conservation efforts to help save gorillas through veterinary medicine, science and a one health approach. The Gorilla Legend Bracelet is proud to support this important and gorilla life-saving work. 

 

 

Help Save Gorillas