The mountain gorilla female Ndakasi, who crossed the internet through a photo in which she seems to pose extremely refined, died at the age of 14. She blew her last breath in front of the man who had taken care of her since she was two months old.
Ndakasi was sick for a long time and died last month after her health suddenly deteriorated rapidly. Named after a caretaker of the park, the gorilla lived in an orphaned gorilla shelter in Virunga National Park in Congo.
She became a global fame in 2019 through a photo of her with another orphaned gorilla, Ndeze. That photo shows how the two great apes pose as accomplished Instagram models: the hip forward for a ranker silhouette, the head slightly tilted.
With a little imagination, they even seem to blow their lips:
Ndakasi was born in April 2007 as a member of the Kabirizi gorilla group in Virunga National Park. She was two months old when rangers found her, clinging to her mothers lifeless body, who had been shot hours earlier by armed militias.
Because she was not fed by her mother for a while, Ndakasi herself was weak and dehydrated. At a shelter in the park, caregiver Andre Bauman managed to keep her alive for the first night by holding her firmly against herself for body warmth and comfort. That succeeded, and a mutual bond was born.
“It was a privilege to be able to care for such a loving creature,” Bauman said in a response to her death. “Especially due to the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very early age.”
“Ndakasis sweet character and intelligence helped me understand the connection between humans and great apes and why we need to do everything we can to protect them. I loved her as a child and her cheerful personality brought a smile to my face,” Bauman concludes.
A photo of her last moments, where her caretaker Andre Bauman sits next to her, has been shared across the park:
In an interview with The Guardian, the caretaker who took the famous picture said that the two gorillas were following him when he held his phone. He took a quick photo on this. “They love to do everything that happens, everything we do.” According to the caregiver, that is inevitable behavior of orphaned gorillas who spend almost their entire lives with people.
More mountain gorillas in the wild
The park in Virunga writes that both inside Congo and outside Congo is doing better with the mountain gorilla in the wild. “Ndakasi was born at a time when the mountain gorillas were vulnerable and critically endangered. However, over the course of her life, the species has grown by 47 percent from 720 individuals in 2007 to an estimated 1063 in 2021.”