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National Park rangers take incredible selfies with critically endangered mountain gorillas

April 22, 2019 6:45PM The Sun

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This selfie received thousands of likes with many thanking the rangers for protecting the animals. Picture: Facebook media_cameraThis selfie received thousands of likes with many thanking the rangers for protecting the animals. Picture: Facebook

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Anti-poaching* rangers have shared a series of incredible selfies posing and relaxing with the gorillas they risk their lives to protect.

The photos were taken at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo only days after a ranger died while doing his job.

At least 600 rangers work at the UNESCO World Heritage park in Africa to protect the mountain gorillas, which can each weigh up to 180kg.

One of a series of photographs the rangers took with the gorillas they protect. Picture: Facebook media_cameraOne of a series of photographs the rangers took with the gorillas they protect. Picture: Facebook

Describing the rangers’ work on its website, the park said it has been “deeply” impacted by war and armed conflict over the past 20 years.

In total, around 1790 rangers have died trying to save the lives of gorillas.

In one selfie a young man grins as he stands next to a gorilla on its legs, appearing very much like a human.

The animals appear to lean back and shrug their shoulders, with one leaning forward to make sure its entire head can be seen in the selfie.

The snap captioned* “family time” generated* thousands of likes on social media platform Facebook.

Another photo shared immediately after showed another ranger kneeling down, with a gorilla leaning on him to get right in the shot.

It looks like this gorilla is leaning in to make sure it gets in the shot with the ranger. Picture: Facebook media_cameraIt looks like this gorilla is leaning in to make sure it gets in the shot with the ranger. Picture: Facebook

Beside the photo captioned, “another day at the office”, a Facebook user commented: “Wow, that is an amazing office you’ve got there.

“Stay safe and thank you for the amazing work you do.”

Selfies together: an adult mountain gorilla and one of the rangers who works to protect this endangered species. Picture: Facebook media_cameraSelfies together: an adult mountain gorilla and one of the rangers who works to protect this endangered species. Picture: Facebook

A ranger died on March 29 after he was attacked by a hippopotamus.

Just days later another ranger was struck by lightning.

In order to become a ranger at the park, applicants* must complete a six-month training program.

The park said on its website: “These local men and women go through intensive* training, risking their lives on a daily basis to safeguard* the park’s exceptional wildlife, including the last of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.”

This article was originally published in The Sun and has been republished with permission.

THE GORILLAS
Scientific name: Gorilla Beringei Beringei

There are only about 1000 left in the wild and are critically endangered.

They live in just two groups, one in the Virunga volcanoes area (which spans parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighbouring countries Uganda and Rwanda) and Bwindi Impenetrable* National Park in Uganda.

The gorillas live at high altitude in forests, where they eat plants.

Humans are the biggest danger to the gorillas, because poachers continue to hunt them and we have destroyed large areas of their forest habitat.

Mountain gorillas, like this one in Rwanda, eat plants. Picture: C. Culbert media_cameraMountain gorillas, like this one in Rwanda, eat plants. Picture: C. Culbert

They usually live in family groups of several females and their young and at least one dominant male. This male is called a silverback because of the patch of silvery grey hair on his back and hips.

Their numbers may have slightly increased in recent years with the help of the national park rangers.

Source: World Wildlife Fund for Nature

Very rare photo of a newborn mountain gorilla baby sleeping on its mother. Picture: Istock media_cameraVery rare photo of a newborn mountain gorilla baby sleeping on its mother. Picture: Istock

VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK
The park covers 8000 square kilometres and is home to one of the world’s largest mountain gorilla populations.

There are hundreds of other species of rare animals in the park. It contains more bird, mammal and reptile species than any other part of Africa.

The park was created in 1925 and was among the first protected areas in Africa.

It is in a country in Africa called the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there have been many wars in recent years.

In 2013, it was estimated that at least six mountain gorilla families, of about 100 gorillas, lived in the area.

Although the land has some protection as a national park, there is still a possibility that in the future it will be used for mining, including for oil and gas.

GLOSSARY

  • poaching: illegal hunting or killing or wildlife
  • captioned: explained in words, as in below or beside a photo
  • generated: made happen
  • applicants: people who apply
  • intensive: concentrated on a single subject and very thorough
  • safeguard: rule or protection
  • impenetrable: can’t get through it, as in a thick forest

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Name the country and the continent this national park is in.
  2. How many mountain gorillas are thought to be left in the wild?
  3. What species is the biggest threat to mountain gorillas? How?
  4. What land area does the national park cover?
  5. What has oil and gas got to do with this story?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Write a Job Ad
Write a job advertisement for an anti-poaching ranger at Virunga National Park. Your ad should encourage the right people to apply, so include a description of the work, the skills that are needed, the dangers and the type of person who would be good at this job. Make your ad as detailed as you can.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

2. Extension
Social media: good or bad? Write a piece of persuasive writing giving your opinion on this question. Use today’s story and other examples that you know to be as convincing as you can.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship

VCOP ACTIVITY
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalist has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What is your favourite primate species? Why? Have you seen one at a zoo?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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