Cell phones are everywhere and impact our daily lives. Simple statement, but very impactful. Everywhere we go and the people that we see nowadays seem to be interacting with a phone. There’s a high chance that you might be reading this blog on your cell phone. Whether it’s as simple as sending a text message, making a phone call, or browsing social media, phones make up, or take up, so much of our time. Each phone comes with its own personal number. You might give that number out to friends or family, sometimes new acquaintances, but when you get an unknown caller show up on your phone, what do you do? Sometimes, we ignore it and hope it wasn’t anything important; sometimes we answer it and realize there’s a recording on the other end. What if you answered that call, but a gorilla was on the other line…
You read that right. What if a gorilla called you one day and asked you for help – what would you do? As unusual as that question might sound, this is something that is happening right now. Well, almost. Gorillas aren’t actually dialing a cell phone or calling your phone, but your cell phone can help save their lives.
Deep in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the search for a rare mineral called coltan (columbute and tantalum) is happening every day. This mineral is an important component found in phones and other small electronics, used to make them run faster and longer. What’s the harm in that? We don’t like when our phones’ battery runs out or when we just can’t seem to get a website to load, so imagine if we didn’t have that in our phones. The harm is actually in where the mineral is found. It’s mined from areas in the DRC where endangered gorillas live.
Roughly 80% of the world’s supply of coltan is found in prime gorilla habitat. In order to get to the minerals, gorilla homes are being destroyed. Miners will move in and build roads in and out of that area. They have to cut down trees, dig up the earth all around, and filter through the coltan that they need. The gorillas, on the other hand, are forced to flee their homes in hopes of finding a safe place that hasn’t already been disturbed by the miners. Even the lucky ones that escape aren’t “out of the woods” yet. Some of the miners don’t have enough to eat, so they will set traps to catch food. Unfortunately, gorillas might be the ones caught in the traps. Some of the miners will eat the gorillas; others will sell the gorillas to make money to buy other food and supplies. If we are able to lessen the demand on brand new cell phones or getting our upgrade as soon as it becomes available, we will be able to save the lives of gorillas throughout Africa.
Recycling old mobile phones helps reduce the demand for coltan and protects gorilla habitat in Africa. If you have a cell phone in a junk drawer in your house, stationed somewhere in the garage collecting dust, or even if the kids are using it as a toy, we will gladly take it off of your hands!
World Gorilla Day is working on a mobile phone recycling program called Gorillas on the Line…Answer the Call! From February 1 through April 30, 2019, gorilla organizations will be working together to collect 10,000 mobile phones and engage 10,000 children and community members to help save gorillas! In addition to the mobile phones, they will also be accepting iPads, iPods, cameras, chargers, etc. If you have any questions about the campaign or have cell phones/small electronics to donate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gorillas are on the line. Join us to answer the call and help.
Aaron Jesue, Gorilla SSP Social Media Advisor
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