Cell Phones & Mining, new threats to Gorilla Populations

On the coat tails of yesterday’s news on the threats to chimpanzee populations are two related articles on threats to gorilla populations. The first article from The Independent integrates many various sources to alarm us with news that…

“… within a decade, three of the four sub-species of the great ape could be wiped out.”

And by 2050, ALL gorillas will be wiped out if war, hunting, logging and mining continue to threaten gorilla populations. Currently, there are at most 120,000 gorillas total in all of Africa with Mountain and Cross River gorillas under 900 individuals.

Recently, I discussed how the encroachment of humans on gorilla habitats has affected their social group stability and affected their survivability towards infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus. One reason why gorilla habitats are being destroyed, and subsequently driven death by way of communicable diseases, is from deforrestation efforts from the mining industry. They are not to blame, though, the Worldwatch Institute has issued a report surprisingingly linking consumption of cell phones with endangering primates in the Congo. Coltan is a mineral needed for cell phone production, and with the rise of cell phone technologies throughout the world — the mines in western Africa are pumping out tons of this material, creating more demand to open newer mines. The depressing news is that instead of recycling for new coltan from the thousands of cell phones being thrown out everyday,

“it is being mined out of the eastern region of the Congo, which is making life difficult for the gorillas that live there.”

I got this news from Mobility Watch‘s commentary on how our lust for new technology is affecting the lives of these great apes. Next time you get the bite for a new hot cell phone, definately be conscientious that the act of buying a new cell phone so regularly really affects gorilla conservation efforts.

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