Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage centre
Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage Centre is the only gorilla orphanage Centre in the world situated at the headquarters near Mikeno lodge in Virunga national park in Democratic Republic of Congo. The gorilla orphanage Centre was established in 2010 at Rumagambo to take care of the orphaned gorillas that were rescued from poachers, animals trafficking. The gorilla orphanage was named after Senkwekwe silverback who was the leader of was killed during the 2007 massacre of the rebel forces in Virunga national park, the silverback left behind two orphans Ndakasi and Ndeze gorillas which led to the establishment of the gorilla orphanage.
Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage Centre is under the management of Virunga national park and has well trained gorilla doctors who pay monthly visits to check on the infants and to treat illnesses or injuries, caretakers who protect and take care of the orphaned gorillas all the time through feeding them, monitoring their mood or any sign of sickness. The gorilla orphanage therefore offers a great opportunity to visitors who love primates to contribute to a worthwhile conservation effort while observing the mountain gorillas, interacting with them, learning more about their lifestyle, behaviors, taking photos among others.
Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage also helps in rehabilitation of the orphaned Eastern lowland gorillas which are rescued from the traffickers, treated and then transferred to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) an orphanage Centre for the Eastern lowland gorillas in Democratic Republic of Congo. Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage Centre receives funds from well-wishers, individuals, World Heritage Organizations, gorilla conservation organizations like Gorilla Doctors, Murry foundation, Dian Fossey Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation among others which has led to the success of the Centre.
There are over 6 mountain gorillas since the orphanage started and the number is expected to expand in future. The orphaned gorillas at the Centre include
Maisha, the name Maisha means “life” and she was the first gorilla orphan to be received at the center. The female gorilla was born in 2001 at the time when the park was being used as a hide-out area for the rebels in Congo and during this period there was rampant poaching and deforestation. Maisha was taken captive by poachers into a cave in Rwanda in 2004. When the staff of Volcanoes national park heard the rumors they rescued the gorilla and she was in poor health, the gorilla doctors took care of her and when Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage was completed, Maisha was transferred from Rwanda to the orphanage and by then she was 9 years old. The Centre had no dominant silverback and since Maisha was the oldest gorilla she kept order among other members. Maisha used to feed on maize and other hard things where she was kidnapped and due to the fact that she was not familiar with the daily meals she started developing diarrhea and low appetite that persisted hence leading to her death.
Kaboko, this is a male gorilla that was rescued trapped in a snare which was set up by poachers, the snare caused a deep wound on the right hand and required amputation. Kaboko was a playful gorilla but suffered from gastrointestinal problems which lead to his death. The male gorilla died at the age of five in 2012 because during this period there was intense fighting between the government and the rebels. The gorilla doctors at that time were in Rwanda treating other gorillas and unable to provide aid to Kaboko.
Yalala, this is a female gorilla that once belonged to Kabirizi family in Virunga national park. The gorilla was found lying on her back after being caught in a snare that was set up by poachers. Her family members tried possible ways to rescue her but all in vein therefore she was abandoned to die in the snare. Yalala was later rescued by rangers and her foot was badly damaged by the snare and needed immediate amputation.
Ndakasi, this is a ten year old female gorilla that survived the massacre of the Rugendo group in 2007. Rugendo gorilla group was under the leadership of Senkwekwe silverback who was killed during the massacre and left Ndakasi and Ndeze gorillas. By then the Senkwekwe orphanage was not complete therefore the gorillas were first taken in a house in Goma town. The house was not spacious and was difficult to maintain in terms of hygiene.
Ndeze, this is a ten year old female that was rescued with Ndakasi during the 2007 massacre. The gorilla was found clinging to the breast of her dead mother safari and was taken to live in a house in Goma town together with Ndakasi. The two gorillas were later transferred from the house to Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage when it was completed.
Matabishi, this is a young male that was rescued in 2010. Matabishi was found abandoned in a corn field near the park boundary and it’s believed that the poachers left him there out of fear that they would be arrested by the park rangers. Matabish was taken care of by Maisha gorilla by carrying him on her back and protecting him from other stubborn gorillas.
When to visit Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Centre
Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage can be visited anytime throughout the year by travellers who visit Virunga national park for gorilla trekking, bird watching, Mount Nyiragongo hiking, chimpanzee trekking, nature walk among others in that it’s a great add on activity after gorilla trekking so as to compare the gorilla experience of the habituated gorillas in the wild and the gorillas in captivity. However senkwekwe gorilla orphanage Centre can be visited freely by visitors staying in Mikeno lodge therefore those staying in other lodges can contact Virunga national park for more details.
New gorillas at the Centre first live in a secluded enclosure before being introduced to other gorillas in the orphanage. There is a deck or platform for visitors where they can watch the caretakers feeding and playing with the gorillas. Young gorillas are fed on milk foods before being introduced to fruits and natural vegetation. Gorillas at the Centre main diet consists of cauliflower, carrots among others.
A visit to Senkwekwe gorilla orphanage gives you an opportunity to interact with the gorillas in captivity by comparing their lifestyle and behaviors with the gorillas in the wild. Visitors who wish to contribute to the success of the orphanage can make donations or sponsor a gorilla and this is done through contacting Virunga national park or contacting Achieve Global Safaris.