Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center is a home of the orphaned mountain gorillas of Virunga that is located adjacent to Mikeno lodge where the Virunga national park headquarters are in Rumangabo. This is the world’s only facility that harbors orphaned gorillas that lost parents in the wars of Congo, due to poaching or are hurt and gives the gorillas a second chance at life. This center has a skilled and passionate team that cares for these animals and is dedicated to seeing the center growing to a bigger home. The team has vet doctors, housekeepers, chefs, and more skilled staff.
The Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center was named after the silverback gorilla that was killed in 2007 along with 3 other family members of the Rugendo gorilla family in Virunga national Park leaving behind 2 orphans that were Ndakasi and Ndeze who were forced to move to Goma for shelter. Park rangers were alerted of these gorillas when they took over authority of the park again in 2009. Goma city was nothing like staying in their natural habitat as the city is crowded, noisy and has little or no vegetation making it hard for the orphan gorillas to survive thus the idea of setting up the center to take care of these animals. The ideal location that was chosen in Rumangabo at the park headquarters, when it was finally secure, was finally set up in 2010 after a serious online campaign that helped them raise funds of about USD 211,000 from good samaritans to start this establishment. The World Heritage Organization saw that these funds were matched to the expenses and hence the success of the center’s reopening. This is in the Southern sector.
2 more orphan gorillas joined the center at the end of 2010 but these were rescued from Rwanda; named Koboko and Maisha who unfortunately didn’t stay at the orphanage for long as they succumbed to health complications they had. The center is however still running until date today successfully.
There are some future plans that the authorities are looking at like expanding the outer perimeter fence to with an inner fence protecting the Mikeno Lodge and the rest of Rumangabo so people staying in Mikeno will be staying the compound of the center. Amazing isn’t it?
The mountain gorillas at Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center are still closely monitored though they can now be let out to play in the compound without the ranger’s supervision as they are not as vulnerable as they used to be when much younger. These are large primates so taking care of them could be tricky but it is being managed. This center also has a few lowland gorillas rescued from Bukavu, Kahuzi Biega and are also cared for on a daily, fed and wounds are nursed. These gorillas have been habituated and are now adjusted to having and being around humans. There are about 6 gorillas at the orphanage that is: Ndeze, Ndakasi, Matabishi, Kaboko, and Yalala that were all victims of poaching. Maisha who was the first tenant of the orphanage passed on due to ill health also suspected to be weak immunity but the cause was never known.
Book your visit to Mikeno Lodge so as to visit this Senkwekwe Gorilla Orphanage Center as only guests of Mikeno lodge can visit it.