(Rangers at Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo snapped orphaned apes in uncannily human pose)
Alex Matthews-King (The Independent)
A pair of mountain gorillas, some of the most endangered creatures on Earth, have been snapped in an uncannily human pose in a selfie with rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ranger Mathieu Shamavu said he captured the image of the two primate posers at Virunga National Park, and it has since gone viral on social media among anti-poachinggroups.
Mr Shamavu, who has previously worked for the Congolese Institute for the Conservationof Nature (ICCN) posted it with the caption “another day in the office”.
It has attracted thousands of responses, with many praising the conservationists’ work and pledging to donate.
Mountain gorillas were on the brink of extinction because of the twin threats of poaching and habitat destruction.
Sustained conservation efforts have brought them back from this precipice but wild populations are still hugely pressurised, with only 1,000 individuals left in the wild.
The two gorillas in the photo were orphaned by poachers and are raised in a specialist unit at the park’s headquarters because they may struggle to survive independently, meaning they are used to human contact.
Virunga is situated in the mountainous eastern region of the DRC and was the first national park established on the African continent – specifically to protect the gorillas in the area.
A team of 600 rangers work across the park to keep wildlife safe from poachers and human incursion, in a region which has been heavily impacted by war and conflict which has raged for more than 20 years.
Fin whales and mountain gorillas pulled back from brink of extinction
Mr Shamavu’s image was shared to the group Elite Anti-Poaching Units and Combat Trackers and has been shared 20,000 times.
“Selfie of the Year no question!,” said Yvonne Ndege, a former BBC journalist now working for the UN in Kenya who also shared the image on Twitter, saying she had also visited the park but hadn’t got as close.
She also called on the public to support the work of the park and rangers by donating.