All the gorillas that live in the Mikeno Sector are unique. Many are particularly well-liked by the Rangers. Very few are famous.This is the story of one gorilla that certainly is. Ndeze’s life began like that of any other gorilla when she was born to Safari and Senkwekwe of the Rugendo Family in 2007.
Safari and Ndeze
But her idyllic natural life was ripped apart in July of that year when armed criminals murdered her parents and two other members of her family. It was, we think, an attempt to intimidate the Rangers and the Congolese Wildlife Authority.
The carer Andre Bauma with Ndeze.
The Rangers certainly felt the loss of these animals very deeply but took some comfort from the fact that the Rugendo Family had regrouped after the attack. But in truth the situation was dire. Only five individuals of the original twelve had returned to the family and it was leaderless. When the Rangers found the group they saw that the blackback Kongomani was looking after his sister Ndeze. Touching as the sight of Ndeze clinging to her brother’s back was, the Rangers knew they couldn’t leave the baby gorilla. Without breast milk she would soon dehydrate and die.
Ndeze on left and Ndakasi
The vets intervened; tranquilizing Kongomani and removing Ndeze. The ICCN then put Ndeze and Ndakasi, another female baby orphan gorilla, in a house in Goma where they were cared for by Rangers trained for the task. It was the very best they could do under the circumstances.
Goma wasn’t right for the orphans. They were living at the wrong altitude in a dusty disease ridden city. They had no access to trees and weren’t learning the skills they would need to survive in the wild.
It wasn’t until 2009, when we were re-established in the park, that we could start raising awareness about Ndeze and Ndakasi, and start raising money to build a more appropriate place for them to live.
During the last few months of that year we conducted an online campaign of unprecedented intensity, raised $211,000 and built the Senkwekwe Centre a beautiful orphanage in the forest near Rumangabo. Every dollar we raised was matched by the World Heritage Organization. While we remain very grateful to everyone who contributed the outstanding generosity of both the Murry Foundation and the Warren G Buffett Foundation deserves special mention.
Ndeze’s story is an inspiration to us and we hope will be an inspiration to you. In 2007 it seemed as though the gorillas were condemned, the park was lost and the region was descending into hell. Two years later we had returned to the park and built the Senkwekwe Centre. The two gorilla orphans - living symbols of the future of the species - were happily settled in their new home.
DOB : 2007
Father : Rugendo
Mother : Safari
Known offspring: None
Known siblings : Bavukahe and Kongomani