Mountain gorilla who became selfie star dies in the arms of ranger who rescued her

Andrea Bauma with Ndakasi in the infamous selfie shot and cradling her as she takes her last breath. Credit: AP/Virunga National Park

A mountain gorilla who found fame on the internet when she posed for a selfie has died “in the loving arms” of the ranger who rescued her as an infant.

Virunga National Park shared a picture of ranger Andre Bauma cradling Ndakasi as she passed away, saying "it is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi".

She was found in April 2007 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo aged just two months old clinging to her mother’s lifeless body – who had been gunned down by armed militia.

Ndakasi was brought to Virunga National Park – Africa’s oldest national park – and was introduced to Bauma who looked after the infant gorilla, nursing her and looking after her as his own.

In a tribute shared by Virunga, Bauma called Ndakasi his friend who he “loved like a child”.

Ndakasi as an infant. Credit: Virunga National Park

Ndakasi found herself going viral in 2019 when she posed for a selfie alongside another orphaned mountain gorilla, Bauma and his fellow anti-poaching ranger.

The picture showed Ndakasi standing on two feet, striking a pose and looking longingly in the camera.

Bauma said it was a “privilege to support and care for such a loving creature” especially after the trauma she had suffered at a very young age.

“One could say that she took after her mother, Nyiransekuye, whose name means ‘someone happy to welcome others’,” he added.

Ndakasi laughing while being tickled by a caretaker. Credit: Virunga National Park

“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.”