May 12, 2020 / 7:01 PM / in 15 days

False claim: Rangers who took viral “gorilla selfie” killed in Congo park attack

Social media posts have claimed the Congolese rangers known for taking a viral “gorilla selfie” have been killed in an attack. This is false.

Mathieu Shamavu, Virunga Ranger and caretaker at Senkwekwe Center for Orphaned Mountain Gorillas poses for a selfie with two gorillas at Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo April 18, 2019 in this picture obtained from social media April 25, 2019. Mathieu Shamavu for via REUTERS

Mathieu Shamavu and Patrick Ndakasi are rangers for Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is home to more than half of the total population of mountain gorillas, an endangered species facing threats from poachers and armed groups (here).

In 2019 a selfie the rangers took with two female orphaned gorillas standing upright and posing like humans was shared widely on social media (here).

Posts on Twitter and Facebook, shared more than 47,000 times, have wrongly suggested that Shamavu and Ndakasi have since been killed in an ambush in April, 2020 (here , here).

The post shows four photos - three of Shamavu and Ndakasi posing with the gorillas, and a fourth of a row of coffins. It has the following caption: “Remember the “Gorilla selfies” of two Gorillas posing with anti-poaching rangers who guarded them? They were ambushed and killed amongst 12 other rangers who also dedicated their lives to service and protect endangered gorillas and preserving biodiversity.”

On April 24, 2020, suspected members of a Rwandan militia did ambush a convoy of civilians in the park (here).

However, the Virunga National Park website does not name Ndakasi and Shamavu in the list of the park rangers and employees killed in the attack (here).

When asked for comment, the park confirmed to Reuters that neither Ndakasi and Shamavu, nor the gorillas in the viral pictures, died in the ambush.


False. Mathieu Shamavu and Patrick Ndakasi did not die in the April 2020 attack in Virunga National Park.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact check social media posts here  .

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