So, if there is one thing that people always seem to underestimate, it’s the powerful connection between man and animal. For example, there is a truly incredible story behind this photo of a gorilla hugging the man who saved her. The story speaks volumes about how we as a species need to work hand in hand with other living creatures on this planet.
Back in 2017, the National History Museum named its Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The chosen image for that competition was a tragic one, of a rhino slain from poaching. However, the “People’s Choice Award” for that same competition shows the other side of that reality.
McArthur captured the heart-warming photo of Pikin and Ndohoudou while volunteering at the Ape Action Africa sanctuary in Cameroon. Sadly, many animals like gorillas and chimpanzees are brutally captured and slaughtered every day. Poaching is a daily occurrence in these jungles, and therefore, people like Nhohouhou do their very best to save these beautiful creatures from certain death.
“Pikin had been rescued from the bushmeat trade, which drives the hunt of wild animals for their meat. The trade affects more than 500 species in Africa, but great apes—gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, and bonobos—are particularly threatened.”
A Gorilla and Her Best Friend Hug
Pikin the gorilla had a veterinary appointment to check her health. So, if all went well, she would be moving into a larger enclosure. McArthur sat in the front seat of the vehicle that was carrying the gorilla, while Pikin and Ndohoudou sat in the back. With her camera in hand, she watched a beautiful connection transpire between gorilla and human.
Ndohoudou said that he and Pikin shared an instant connection when he arrived at the rescue center. “She really loved me and I loved her. She didn’t like the other gorillas coming near me as she was jealous and she would shout if they tried to come and give me hugs. I was her father, I belonged to her.“
Sadly, Ndohoudou didn’t get to enjoy much more time with Pikin after this photo was taken. While playing in the forest with other gorillas, the loving Pikin was seriously wounded. Sanctuary staff did everything they could to save the little gorilla who was famous for her hugs. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep her alive.
“When Pikin died I was very sad for a long time,” Ndohoudou said. “Now I know Pikin never left me, as she is always with me every day in my head and in my heart.”
Poaching is harming our planet and it’s destroying these beautiful creatures. We need them, and so, we need to show we care. If you’d like to make a difference, there are some options to consider. You can volunteer at an animal shelter or sanctuary, or you can donate to a wildlife sanctuary. Also, you could find a rehabilitation center you like and email them to ask how you can help!
Do what you can to make a difference. The animals will always show their gratitude.
- “The Touching Story Behind This Award-Winning Wildlife Image.” Smithsonian Magazine. Brigit Katz. February 22, 2018.