Senkwekwe Orphanage Center is the only facility in the world that caters for the rare endangered mountain gorilla orphans and it is situated in Rumangabo in the north of Goma town and Virunga national park.
Due to the financial support of individuals around the world and the loving care provided by their human caregivers, the gorilla-orphans are now living happy and secure lives in their forested enclosure (Senkwekwe).
The gorilla orphans receives a lot of support from all over the world in that even when they get sick, there are experienced and skilled gorilla veterinarians (gorilla doctors) who take care of them and give them treatment.
The Senkwekwe Centre is currently home to three mountain gorilla orphans and each of the three gorillas have different sad stories about becoming orphans though now they are all thriving and living happily as a family with a lot of care given to them by their guardians led by Andre. The three mountain gorilla orphans living in the Centre include;
Matabishi was found alone in a cornfield outside Virunga National Park and fortunately a certain individual who found it alerted the rangers who forwarded him to the gorilla Doctors could on June 23rd 2013.
Matabishi was not found in a very critical situation since it was first rescued by the rangers after alerting them and instead it just had a slight dehydration plus a wound on his back.
The gorilla doctors thus transferred Matabishi to Senkwekwe Centre and though the gorilla had been taken from a wild mountain group and also viewed how they assassinated his family, he slowly got used to humans and he is now living a happily life at Senkwekwe together with his fellow gorillas.
It is another gorilla living in the Senkwekwe orphanage centre which was born under the Rugendo gorilla family in Virunga national park. She was born by a mother called Safari who was also massacred on one of the Park’s darkest days only six months after Ndeze’s birth.
The father of Ndeze (Senkwekwe) also perished that day after almost certainly putting up a tremendous fight to protect his family thus leaving the little Ndeze a total orphan. Senkwekwe orphan centre was thus named so in a commemoration of Ndeze’s father due to his humor.
After the perishing of her family, Ndeze was later picked up by one of her elder brother (Mukunda) who carried her away into the forest in order to protect her.
After careful planning and tracking, the rangers and Gorilla Doctors darted Mukunda briefly to allow them to retrieve Ndeze and with a lot of expert care of the Gorilla Doctors and ranger guardians, Ndeze has now grown into a healthy and strong youngster
Ndakasi was born in Kabirizi gorilla family in Virunga national park and she was named so after Benjamin Ndakasi Lola who was a dearly park ranger and died in the same year Ndakasi was born (2007). Ndakasi’s story is so amazing though on the other side it is a sad one.
Ndakasi lost her mother (Nsekuye) only two months after her birth who was shot back of the head for no clear reason. Ndakasi was rescued by the gorilla doctors and Andre Gauma (ranger) who fed her with milk though she suddenly took a turn for the worse with her oxygen levels falling dangerously low.
It was predicted that she had picked up an infection from one of the humans who had rescued her and she developed severe pneumonia. She was so slimy with 18 inches long and weighing around 5 and half pounds which made the gorilla Doctors to get worried about her survival.
However due to the professionalism of the doctors, Ndakasi was treated till when she go well. She was then transferred to Senkwekwe centre at the end of 2009 in December together with Ndeze who had joined her soon and both gorillas are now very close friends who are living a strong healthy life at Senkwekwe.
The centre has so far lost two mountain gorillas which include;
Maisha was the eldest of all the gorillas which lived at Senkwekwe centre. Maisha was born in 2001 and unfortunately she entered her forest world when there were many rebel groups within Virunga national Park. In 2004, she was poached and taken across the Congo-Rwanda border however gladly the rumors about her poaching circulated and reached the Rwandan Park Authority and Rwandan police who rescued her.
She was found in a critical condition and thus the Gorilla Doctors had to do their level best to heal her and very soon she regained her weight with good food.
In 2006, the Gorilla doctors and their partners opened up a gorilla orphan facility at Kinigi in Rwanda where Maisha was moved to eventually be with the already existed mountain gorilla orphan (Kaboko) and the other six eastern lowland gorilla orphans.
After a period of time, in 2010, Maisha and Kaboko were all taken back to their home country DR Congo and resided in the orphanage centre of Senkwekwe. Maisha and Kaboko thus found the already existed little Ndeze and Ndakasi and after few weeks, the four were slowly introduced to each other until the new gorilla family was formed.
Maisha lost her last breath in August of 2018 after a very long illness and though the gorilla doctors tried their level best, Maisha could not last anymore and currently the only three living gorillas at the centre include; Matabishi, Ndakasi and Ndeze who are living a healthy life.
Kaboko was originally from Virunga National Park before being captured by the poachers who confiscated him in Gisenyi (the border of DR Congo and Rwanda).
Kaboko recovered at the Gorilla Doctors orphan gorilla facility at Kinigi in Rwanda where he met other fellow gorillas and though by the time he reached Kinigi he looked so depressed preferring his own company but after a year at the facility he then begun to seek the friendship of his keepers and fellow gorilla orphans.
Kinigi was then home for 8 orphan gorillas six of which were eastern lowland gorillas and the seventh was Maisha, a female orphan mountain gorilla which also originated from Virunga national park, DR Congo.
As time moved on, both mountain gorillas (Kaboko and Maisha) were transferred to the Senkwekwe Centre at Rumangabo to live alongside the other two fellow mountain gorilla orphans (Ndeze and Ndakasi) who were already there.
During the terrible fighting between M23 rebels and the Congolese army that swamped Rumangabo in July 2012 led to the death of Kaboko who was severely traumatized by the sounds of gunfire and bombs.