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 where Grauer’s gorillas, the largest primate in the world, 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 grown and Grauer’s gorillas have suffered as a result. 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 considered one of Conservation International’s 25 Most Endangered Primates. Click here for more on the link between mining, conflict, and threats to Grauer’s gorillas.

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.



It’s easy! For an instruction kit and to arrange for free shipping of your devices, email Eric Ronay at ECO-CELL (eric@eco-cell.com). Mention that you want your proceeds to help the GRACE gorillas. Thank you!