Ndakasi's passing

Brent Stirton's Image

Brent Stirton (South Africa) shares the closing chapter of the story of a much-loved mountain gorilla.

Brent photographed Ndakasi's rescue as a two-month-old after her troop was brutally killed by a powerful charcoal mafia in 2007. Here he memorialised her passing as she lay in the arms of her rescuer and caregiver of 13 years, ranger Andre Bauma.

Ndakasi was the only survivor of the attack in 2007, when she was found clinging to her mother's dead body. Andre used his body warmth to comfort and keep the youngster alive until morning. So began a relationship that lasted all Ndakasi's life.

Andre says, 'It was Ndakasi's sweet nature and intelligence that helped me to understand the connection between humans and [other] great apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them'.

As a result of unrelenting conservation efforts focusing on the daily protection of individuals, mountain gorilla numbers have quadrupled to more than 1,000 in the last 40 years.

Jen Guyton, photojournalist and judge said, 'One of the most important roles that photography can do is convey emotion. This image does that to an astounding degree - it's pure emotion. Images like this can be truly effective at inspiring change.'

Behind the lens

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton

South Africa

Brent is a Senior Correspondent for Getty Images. He does most of his work for National Geographic Magazine, focusing on the intersection of humans and the environment.

Image details

  • Canon EOS R5
  • 24–70mm 2.8 lens
  • 1/160 sec at f2.8  •   ISO 3200
  • Senkwekwe Center, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

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