Moving home is often stressful and sometimes positively traumatic. The last time Ndeze and Ndakasi moved it was horrifying. The two mountain gorilla babies had just been orphaned, their parents murdered in a dispute that led to the sacking of the director of Virunga National Park in eastern Congo.
One of the orphan’s fathers, Senkwekwe, became internationally famous as pictures of the silverback’s immense corpse borne aloft on a bamboo trellis by grieving villagers ran in newspapers and magazines around the world. The massacres of 2007 left seven of the critically endangered mammals dead; they also left Ndeze and Ndakasi without a family. Ndakasi was found, at two-months-old, clinging to his dead mother, who had been shot at close range.
The pair found themselves in the refugee city of Goma, an unstable mustering point for the human disasters that echo from Lake Albert through the volcano valleys of Virunga to the shore of Lake Kivu. It’s a place ringed by refugee camps, periodically evacuated by Western aid workers and occasionally burned to the ground by the eruptions of Nyiragongo volcano to its north.