Forget Ellen at the Oscars; forget Obama’s on-point selfie game; forget the space selfies (admittedly a close second) and the kids climbing skyscrapers. The selfie game is over and the winners are the Anti-Poaching Unit in Virunga National Park, in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Their days are spent performing the incredibly challenging task of protecting Virunga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, from poachers and armed conflict, but the men of the Elite Anti-Poaching Unit still get time to relax with their charges. Namely, the park’s critically endangered mountain gorillas, who are surprisingly keen for Insta fame.
Alongside park ranger Patrick Sadiki is Ndakasi and Matabishi, two of the park’s resident gorillas. And if the pic’s anything to go by, they’re done pre-gaming and ready to hit da club.
Ndakasi and Matabishi have developed quite a taste for the camera. This is their second exposure to the Facebook audience after posing with ranger Mathieu Shamavu in 2018, showing off their impressive physique. Shamavu, naturally, seems completely unfazed by these massive animals — he’s familiar enough with the park’s wildlife to share a surprisingly friendly bond with the gorillas.
Of course, levity like this is kinda needed when you do the kinda job that the Anti-Poaching Unit does. In the last month, the unit’s Facebook page has memorialised four rangers who lost their lives in the line of duty. While two were killed by wildlife and weather (a hippo attack and a lightning strike respectively), the other two were killed battling ivory smugglers and poachers. Theirs is an incredibly dangerous job, but these brave men see it as more of a “calling”.
One of the park rangers says it best, while simultaneously crushing all competition with a powerful selfie — wearing a live gorilla as a fascinator.
The translation from French reads: “When one is still young, it seems very simple to be a hero or a martyr. But as one marches on in life, one understands the price of a simple act of virtue, and only God can give us the strength to achieve this.”
So the Anti-Poaching Unit are both an inspiring display of what true dedication to environmental protection looks like and straight fire social media heroes? Hell yeah. I’m all about these guys right now.