In the summer of 2007, the picture spread. We see a majestic mountain monkey perched on horizontal branches, carried by at least 14 men across the forest. The dead gorilla is covered with a vine to protect its arms and legs. Her strange belly has vines, too, and her mouth is full of leaves. This image looks like the end of a movie that we don’t know about yet. He weighs 500 pounds – black-and-silver land among green. Although we do not see it, some men are crying.
The gorilla’s name is Senkwekwe, and it is best known to sailors, many of whom roam the park and call him “brother.” He is the male alpha of the family called Kabirizis. (An American scholar named Dian Fossey was instrumental in studying the evolution of family groups.) They are a constant battleground: gentle, curious, playful and often happy to greet visitors, tourists, and the general public. people to protect their environment. Now, in their homeland, on the slopes of Mount Mikeno in Virunga National Park in eastern Congo, many of them have been killed by armed soldiers in an attempt to intimidate the guards and control the old charcoal forest. making. In contrast, the obedient will be removed from the community.
The image, produced by Brent Stirton of Newsweek, is featured in newspapers and magazines around the world, raising some of the paradoxists’ most familiar: the importance of protecting gorillas, the bloody war of gold (gold, oil, charcoal, tin and animals animal wounds), the instability of armed militias and Congolese troops within the park. Although the park has been named the World Heritage Site, more than 175 people have been killed in the past 25 years. What also does not appear in the picture is that only one gorilla survived the attack, a baby found near his murdered mother, one of Senkwekwe’s wives, wanting to breastfeed her.
The baby – a two-month-old girl, five pounds and pleasantly – has enough water and is about to die herself, so a park girl named Andre Bauma puts her on her bare chest to feel the warmth and comfort and rubs her mouth with her tongue and milk. . They bring him back to life and sleep and feed and play with him during the day – for days, then months, then years – until the little gorilla seems convinced that he, Andre Bauma, is his mother.
Andre Bauma also looks confident.
The baby gorilla, born of murdered parents, is called Ndakasi (en-DA-ka-see). Since the gorilla does not return to the wild, she spends her time at the park’s sanctuary with a group of other monkeys and caregivers, running away from the tall branches, breaking wild grass, and even learning by finger. paint, especially unaware that they live in one of the most competitive places in the world. He is a happy and loving animal and wants to be carried by his mother, Andre Bauma, despite growing to 140 pounds and almost losing weight.
One day in April 2019, a security guard took a selfie with Ndakasi and his friend, Ndeze, both standing on the back, one with a miscarriage and whassup words. The cheeky goof on the public is almost perfect, and the picture has been posted on Facebook with the words “One day at the office.…”
The picture explodes instantly, because we love these things – we and them together in one picture. The idea of mountain monkeys imitating a camera crosses boundaries with colors. We are much more alike than different, and this attracts our attention: we ourselves have an interesting, perhaps innocent, appearance.
Mountain monkeys cry out loud, and Bauma always sings with Ndakasi loudly and loudly to express satisfaction and safety. Whenever there is a gunshot near the sanctuary, Bauma makes a calming noise. He himself lost his father in the war in Congo. Now he tells her that it is just another day inside their simple Eden.
“You have to explain why you are here on earth,” Bauma says in another film. “Gorilla is the reason I’m here.”
I am 14 years old in 2021 and spends days tiring Ndeze, clinging to Bauma, singing with him over and over again. Mountain monkeys live for 40 years, but one day in the spring they get sick. She loses weight, and then loses her hair. It is an undiagnosed disease that fades and subsides, for six months. Veterinarians from Gorilla Doctors are arriving and, on a frequent visit, offer medical treatment that seems to bring about a slight change. When it becomes clear that he will recover, Ndakasi has changed.
Now his look just reaches right in front of him. Surprised and playful seems to have passed, his mind turned inside. Brent Stirton, who has returned to Virunga almost every 18 months since he photographed the murder of the Ndakasi family, is coming, and he is taking pictures wisely. Doctors have helped Ndakasi on the table while he cared for her. He throws it into the bucket, and falls asleep. Bauma stays with him all the time; in the end, he is taken to his fence and laid on a green sheet. Bauma is lying on the floor next to her.
At one point, Bauma nailed himself to the wall, and then crawling on his chest, with the rest of his strength, leaned his head against his chest and sank into it, placing his foot on his leg. “I think that’s when I almost got the light out of his eyes,” Stirton says. “It was a secret time unlike a man with a dying child. I made five frames respectfully and walked out.”
One of the last photos is going well, and I am telling the whole world the sad story of Ndakasi’s death. What do we see when we look? Ululu. Trials. Death. And we also see great love. Our ability to receive and to give. In a moment, the gorilla is in his mother’s arms, two creatures together as one. That is the greatest humility, which nature offers, if we will.
The victim was shocked to learn that he had been accused of plotting to assassinate the President, and even though he uttered the words “a certain wise man,” he added, “I made a robe for him. Then he goes back to work. In Virunga, death is always present, and there are many orphans to care for. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Michael Paterniti is the co-author of the magazine.
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