Mathieu Shamavu is a park ranger — a job that is absolutely vital when it comes to protecting wildlife.
Shamavu is known as the last line of defense for young primates in need as a caretaker at Virunga National Park’s mountain gorilla orphanage in the Congo.
But Shamavu is not just a protector to the gorillas, but family in their eyes.
Among the gorillas, Shamavu has formed a special bond with Ndakazi and Ndeze, two females who lost their parents to poachers.
But despite their unfortunate beginnings, they now have better lives thanks to Shamavu’s care.
“I’m still close to them and they feel good,” Shamavu shared with The Dodo.
While enjoying each other’s company, Shamavu decided to take a moment for a selfie with Ndakazi and Ndeze behind him — which resulted in an adorable snap of their relationship.
The selfie has since gone viral and it is most likely due to the casual, upright poses Ndakazi and Ndeze strike in the snap.
“YES, it’s real! Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities!”
The Virunga National Park wrote.
“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.”
But what is even more captivating is the look of adoration in the eyes of Ndakazi and Ndeze toward the human who changed their lives.
While Shamavu is very dedicated to his work, the job is not without danger.
Rangers at Virunga National Park are at risk form conflicts with poachers as well as rebel groups in the region — with five rangers being murdered on the job last year alone.
But Ndakazi and Ndeze believe it is a cause worth fighting for.
“Conserving Virunga’s amazing wildlife is a constant challenge for the Park and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support,” the park posted.
Many folks commented on the sweet photos, saying:
“That is a most beautiful, peaceful sight. I wish you peace, young man, for all you do & I wish peace & safety for these beautiful creatures.”
“Beautiful. Thank you for saving these precious creatures. Your work and dedication is priceless.”
The Virunga National Park reminds how you can help the cause, saying:
“Conserving Virunga’s amazing wildlife is a constant challenge for the Park and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support. Matching funds have been pledged on every donation to the Park today, up to a total of $25,000—giving us the opportunity to raise $50,000 for Virunga! Thank you!”
The National Park gave its followers a word of warning:
“We want to emphasize that these gorillas are in an enclosed sanctuary for orphans to which they have lived since infancy. The caretakers at Senkwekwe take great care to not put the health of the gorillas in danger. These are exceptional circumstances in which the photo was taken. It is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild.”
To learn more on how you can help, visit Virunga National Park’s website here.
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