If you use a cell phone, you have in your possession a metal called coltan, a component that’s essential to the phone’s function. Most of the world’s coltan comes from the Congo, and is mined by Rwandans who survived their country’s genocide in the 1990s. They often work for militias that sell coltan illegally to finance their military operations. It so happens that the main area where Coltan is mined, also contains the Kahuzi Biega National Park, home of the Mountain Gorilla.
In Kahuzi Biega National Park the gorilla population has been cut nearly in half, from 258 to 130 as the ground is cleared to make mining easier. Not only has this reduced the available food for the Gorillas, the poverty caused by the displacement of the local populations by the miners has lead to Gorillas being killed and their meat being sold as “bush meat” to the miners and rebel armies that control the area. Within the Dem. Rep. of Congo as a whole, the U.N. Environment Program has reported that the number of eastern lowland gorillas in eight Dem. Rep. of Congo national parks has declined by 90% over the past 5 years, and only 3,000 now remain.
Keep this in mind the next time you call a friend.