A heart-warming picture of two gorillas Ndakazi and Ndeze posing with game rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been dubbed the selfie of the year, and not many can disagree with that unofficial accolade.
The two gorillas were photographed striking a human-like, lean-back pose in a relaxed selfie with the rangers who rescued them as babies after poachers killed their parents.
Ranger Mathieu Shamavu captured the remarkable moment at Virunga National Park, and the selfie has since gone viral on social media.
The selfie has been liked over 50,000 times on Virunga National Park’s Instagram page, and also widely shared across various other networks.
A caption which accompanied the viral picture on Instagram read: “You might have recently seen caretakers Mathieu and Patrick’s amazing selfie with female orphaned gorillas Ndakazi and Ndeze inside the Senkwekwe center at Virunga National Park. We’ve received dozens of messages about the photo. YES, it’s real! Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities! Also, it’s no surprise to see these girls on their two feet either—most primates are comfortable walking upright (bipedalism) for short bursts of time”.
Virunga National Park is utilising the publicity the image has brought to appeal for donations to continue conservation work.
Working as a game ranger in the DRC is also a major challenge considering the political instability, particularly in the eastern part of the country. There are risks of armed attacks from militia groups. However, the rangers remain dedicated to their jobs despite the challenges they face, and their contribution should continue to be celebrated.