Did you know that your cell phone and other electronics have contributed to the gorilla conservation crisis? Minerals such as columbite and tantalite (“coltan” for short) are widely used in cell phones and other electronics and are commonly sourced from mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the only place in the world where the largest gorillas called Grauer’s gorillas live.
Mining has been linked to many problems in eastern DRC, including armed groups and forced labor. Mining also contributes to illegal poaching, since mines are located in remote forested areas and gorillas are hunted by miners for food. Over the past 20 years, the cell phone market has boomed while Grauer’s gorillas have suffered. The wild population has declined by 77% and only 3,800 gorillas now remain. This year, Grauer’s gorillas were listed as Critically Endangered by the World Conservation Union and are named as one of Conservation International’s 25 Most Endangered Primates.
But you can help by: (1) replacing your phone and other small electronics only when necessary and (2) recycling your electronics when it’s time for a replacement. These simple actions mean fewer resources being extracted from gorilla habitat and thus less pressure on wild Grauer’s gorillas. Recycling has other important benefits too like keeping toxins out of our landfills.
Now, recycling your electronics can also directly help gorillas orphaned by poaching! The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (or GRACE) works in DRC to rehabilitate orphaned Grauer’s gorillas so they can one day return to the wild. GRACE is teaming up with ECO-CELL, a leading electronics recycler, to make it easy for you to make a difference for Grauer’s gorillas. Send ECO-CELL your used cell phones, smartphones, iPods, iPads, tablets, and MP3 players and this will help GRACE gorillas in three ways:
1) Smartphones in good condition can be reused by GRACE staff.
2) Apple iPhones can be used in GRACE’s veterinary lab to diagnose and treat diseases in gorillas.
3) Electronics that cannot be reused due to age or condition will be recycled and converted into funds to benefit GRACE’s gorilla rehabilitation program.
Please recycle your electronics to help gorillas – or better yet – start an electronics drive in your school, business, club, or church to maximize your impact.
Participating is easy! For an instruction kit and to arrange for free shipping of your devices, email Eric Ronay at ECO-CELL (firstname.lastname@example.org). Mention that you want your proceeds to help the GRACE gorillas. Thank you!
Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center – GRACE was founded in 2009 and is the only facility in the world dedicated to providing in situ rehabilitative care for Grauer’s gorillas orphaned by poaching. GRACE’s ultimate goal is to return gorillas to the wild. GRACE also works with local communities, through education and other outreach programs, to help ensure the long-term survival of wild gorilla populations. Grauer’s gorillas only live in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and have lost 77% of their population in the past 20 years due to poaching. They are Critically Endangered and considered to be one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world. For more information about GRACE, please visit us at www.gracegorillas.org, watch our video, and follow us on social media (Facebook: GRACE4gorillas and Twitter: @GRACEgorillas).