We all know that losing a parent can be one of the most tragic days of a person’s life. This photo that was taken by photographer Phil Moore shows us that that the feelings of loss and sadness that come with losing a mother aren’t limited to the human species.
Read on to find out more about the circumstances that brought this unlikely pair together.
10. The Park That’s Home
Virunga National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on the border of Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and is also the continent’s most biologically diverse protected area. The park is home to about a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.
9. There’s A Dark Past
For all of its beauty, Virunga has a dark past. It was founded primarily to protect the mountain gorillas living in the forests of the Virunga Massif. In 1994, the Rwandan genocide unleashed a flood of more than one million refugees who placed tremendous pressure on the park’s forests and wildlife.
Click the next slide to discover what the park’s darkest hour was.
8. Murder In The Forest
In 2007, poachers murdered a family of mountain gorillas. Their motivation was simple: kill the mountain gorillas and there will no longer be a reason to protect the park, and the poachers would be free to exploit its natural resources. By the end of the year, nine critically endangered mountain gorillas had been murdered.
7. Humans Are To Blame
Mountain gorillas have become a critically endangered species as a direct result of two distinct human activities. First, mass deforestation has resulted in severe habitat loss for not just gorillas but many animals of the rainforest. Second, roads used to transport goods in and out of these rainforests are being used by poachers to access gorilla habitats and transport gorilla meat.
Click the next slide to see what has been done to try and save the gorillas in Virunga National Park.
6. The Rangers Fight Back
After the 2007 gorilla killings, the park embarked on a series of reform programs involving the restructuring and strengthening of its ranger force to more effectively protect the park’s wildlife and habitats. It also started a major initiative, referred to as the Virunga Alliance, to encourage economic development and stability for the people living around the park.
5. Taking Care Of Orphans
In early 2009, Chief Warden Emmanuel de Merode and park rangers regained complete control of Virunga and set about raising worldwide awareness of the plight of the mountain gorillas there. Their goal was to raise enough money to build a facility for gorillas that had been orphaned and/or injured in the civil war.
Would they achieve their goal in a country already torn apart? Read on to find out!
4. Two Little Inspirations
By early 2010, the park had raised enough money and The Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center was soon built. Its first two residents were orphans Ndeze and Ndakasi. In 2007, Ndeze’s mother, Safari, had been found brutally murdered by armed men and set on fire, along with four other adult gorillas, including the family’s patriarch silverback Senkwekwe (for whom the center was named).
3. She Was Left For Dead
Ndeze, and what was left of her family, was found by rangers several days later clinging to the back of her brother. Because Ndeze was too young to survive without her mother’s breast milk, vets had to intervene and rescue her. That’s where rangers Andre Bauma and Patrick Karabaranga come in.
Read on to see why he thought she needed a hug.
2. They Are All Alone
The three orphans currently living in the sanctuary are the only mountain gorillas in the world who do not live in the wild, having been moved there as babies after their parents were hunted or killed by poachers. Gorillas are animals that typically live in a family unit and they’ll miss their family and often find it difficult to survive in captivity.
1. A Strong Bond
As a result, they develop a strong bond with their caretakers. Photographer Phil Moore, who took the pic of Patrick giving one of the orphans a hug said in an interview, “It’s amazing how playful and curious gorillas are, but they’re also very shy with strangers. Their caretakers ‘talk’ to them and even use a different a tone of voice with each one.”