How Cell Phone Recycling Can Help African Gorillas

Diane Fossey, the famous American primatologist, lived in the Congo in early 1967, studying African gorillas. Fossey, after the publication of several studies and photographs of her with the gorillas, almost single-handedly brought the plight of these primates to the fore of public consciousness in the early seventies. Today, it is these gorillas, particularly the Eastern Lowland Gorillas (gorilla beringei graueri) that are on the brink of extinction because of the widespread exploitation of Congo’s minerals and the armed conflict that has been raging in the area since 1996. How does cell phone recycling help protect African gorillas?

Bloodiest conflict on earth

Congo is a country that is extremely rich in minerals like gold, silver, diamond, and coltan (columbite tantalite). Tantalum, produced from Coltan, is widely used by electronics manufacturers in the capacitors of cell phones, DVD players, and video game consoles.

The continuing civil war in the Congo today, which many experts say is the bloodiest conflict on earth, after the second world war, has already claimed 5.4 million lives since it erupted in 1996. This war is being fueled, in large part, by the money from the illicit trade of Congo’s minerals in the world market. Armed groups in the eastern Congo, where most of the minerals are found, have enlisted entire tribes – through violence, intimidation. or bribery – to help extract minerals in the areas that they control. The proceeds from the sale of these “conflict” metals are then used to purchase medicine, food, weapons, and ammunition – essentially bankrolling and keeping the bloody conflict raging unabated.

How are gorillas threatened?

Since 1996, the population of gorillas in the area has steadily declined – from about 9,000 prior to the start of the conflict in 1996 to just about 3,000 individuals today. The mines that myriad armed groups in the region are operating have paved the way for large-scale destruction of rain forests in the area, effectively decimating the gorillas’ natural habitat. These have also attracted thousands of impoverished migrants from all across the country hoping to share in the bonanza from the mines, in spite of the apparent dangers.

The influx of large numbers of human migrants to the area naturally results in more forest cover destruction and food scarcity. Gorillas are now threatened, not just by the loss of their habitat, but directly, as poachers infiltrate their remaining enclaves in search of “bush meat” to feed the hungry migrant population. It’s a destructive cycle that tragically appears to have no end in sight, except, if no solution is found soon, the total extinction of the gorillas in this part of Africa.

How can we help?

Clearly, there is a connection between the plight of gorillas in the Congo and the huge worldwide demand for cell phones and other electronic products today. The Congo conflict appears to be a Gordian knot of political and economic ramifications that African and western leaders seem unable to untangle. Simple, straightforward solutions appear to be out of hand, at the moment. One measure, however, following the law of supply and demand, will clearly affect the finances of those armed groups that are operating those mines – cell phone recycling.

Cell phone recycling, done on a global scale, will automatically lessen the demand for metals used in the production of mobile phones – like gold and coltan. Every year, more than 100 million cell phones are replaced in the United States alone, and less than twenty percent are recycled or sent back to manufacturers for responsible disposal.

“Most people don’t know that there’s a connection between this metal in their cell phones and the well-being of wildlife in the area where it’s mined,” said Karen Killmar, the associate curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo, in an interview with the National Geographic. “Recycling old cell phones is a way for people to do something very simple that could reduce the need for additional coltan…and help protect the gorillas.”

As we can see, there is a connection between cell phones, cell phone recycling, and threatened gorillas in the conflict areas of eastern Congo. Cell phone recycling may be a secondary solution, far removed from the horrific reality of the war – but it is an effective tool that all of us can wield to help end human suffering and protect wildlife in the region. Recycle phones today, and create that positive impact for the African Eastern Lowland Gorillas.

Rwanda Gorilla Tours – A Once in a Lifetime Experience

The Habitat of the Rwanda Gorillas

The dense jungle slopes of the Virunga volcanic mountains that lie on the north east border of Rwanda are home to the magnificent Rwanda gorilla. The area is famous for the opportunity to embark on Rwanda gorilla tours to view them in close proximity, but it certainly isn’t a glamorous feat to get to where these mighty apes live.

A Rwanda gorilla excursion entails trekking through the misty depths of the damp undergrowth of the rainforest. Whilst making your way past low slung branches covered in lichen and dense forest vegetation, you will come across some magical species of animals, insects and birds that thrive in this region. Soaking up your environment of the rugged terrain and all the inhabitants of the Virunga Mountains is all part of the adventure of Rwanda gorilla tours.

The Rwanda Gorilla Tour Experience

Once you have travelled through the jungle and come across a family of gorillas – you will understand why Diane Fossey dedicated 18 years of her life to protecting this incredible species. You will have time to observe the Rwanda gorillas as they go about their daily life by foraging for food, looking after their young as they jostle playfully and resting in their home environment.

When embarking on a gorilla tour, you will learn that there are strict protocols in place to ensure the safety and preservation of their species. The habituated Rwanda gorilla groups receive a maximum of 8 visitors per day. The trip through the forest can entail anything from a 1 hour to a 4 hour walk and you will always be accompanied by trackers who have years of experience and knowledge from living next to the forest and having spent much of their time with the gorillas.

Spending time in the company of these animals is a heart-warming and magical experience and it’s a true privilege to be in such close proximity of these distant relatives of ours. A Rwanda gorilla tour will stay etched into your memory bank forever.

Interesting Facts about Rwanda Gorillas

In Uganda and Rwanda, the gorillas have adapted specifically to their living environment. Before you embark on a Rwanda gorilla tour, be sure to do a bit of research into their species so that you enhance your experience by possessing knowledge prior to coming into contact with them.

o In both Rwanda and Uganda, gorillas can be identified by their nose prints, which are unique to each individual.

o The adult male Rwanda gorillas have more pronounced bony crests on their skulls, giving them a more conical shape in comparison to the females.

o Adult male gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda are referred to as “silverbacks”, this is because of a saddle of grey or silver-coloured hair that develops on their backs as they age.

o Rwanda and Uganda gorillas that live in the Virunga Mountains have longer and darker hair than other gorilla species. This allows them to live in hot or cold weather, even in areas where the temperature drops below 0 (32 degrees Fahrenheit).

o Mountain gorillas are diurnal and active during the hours between 6am and 6pm.

o Every evening, the mountain gorillas build a new nest to sleep in for the night using surrounding vegetation.

Tips For Your Rwanda Gorilla Tour

Remember that when you enter the mountain gorillas’ terrain, you need to show the utmost respect for their habitat. This means that you will have to keep in mind to preserve the environment and leave it just as you found it. Littering is strictly prohibited, along with spitting (which can cause contamination and introduce disease).

When you come across the gentle mountain gorillas, your guide will remind you to keep your voices low and cough with your hand over your mouth, turned away from the gorillas. You should also avoid rapid movements that may frighten or disturb them and at all times, follow your guide’s directions. Your viewing time is limited to 1 hour, so make sure you make the most of it by taking time to observe and pay respect to these gentle giants as they go about their daily business.

Say Hello to Rwanda Silverback Gorillas

If you are a nature lover and seeking solace in the arms of nature, Rwanda, located at the heart of East Africa, is the place to be. An extremely beautiful country of lakes, rivers and springs, the lush green rainforests and grasslands will soothe your eyes like never before. The high mountains with active as well as extinct volcanoes and the rare flora and fauna will leave you awestruck. Plan your Rwanda tourism to give yourself amazing time and memories.

This mountainous land is split by the Rift Valley. Popularly known as “Mille Collines” or land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is dominated by mountain range from north to south. The mountains are the habitat of around 480 gorillas and are a major tourist attraction. The habitat covers the international borders of Rwanda, Uganda and DROC. When you plan your visit to Rwanda, do not miss out on the Rwanda mountain gorilla trekking. The gorilla trek is immensely adventurous and interesting. When you will look at the eyes of the mountain gorillas, he will return an intelligent, thoughtful gaze. If you are lucky, a young gorilla with full of curiosity might come near you playfully.

The climb to the natural habitat of gorillas is simply exhilarating. The shady bamboo forest offers mesmerizing views in each and every direction. The mysterious rainforests wake up with the chirping of beautiful and colourful birds and you will also not miss out the chattering of rare golden monkey. A large silverback male gorilla weighs up to 200kg. It must be mentioned here that the mountain gorillas are up to three times the size of a human being and are noticeably tolerant of human visitors. Rwanda silverback gorilla tours are operated throughout the year but during the rainy season, hiking gets a bit difficult. December to February and June to the middle of September are the best months for gorilla trekking.

Apart from mountain gorillas, one can also spot leopard, chimpanzees, monkeys, bushbuck, waterbuck, giant forest hog, bush pig, spotted hyena and many other wild animals. Squirrel and dormouse are also seen.

The three areas of interest to visitors that come to Rwanda are the Virunga Volcanoes, the Kagera National Park and the region around Lake Kivu.

The island of Reunion provides variety of places to stay. A place of stay can be chosen according to your taste and preference and most importantly your budget. The deluxe hotels will tickle your lavish senses while the budget ones ensure you cosy and comfortable stay at affordable prices. The west coast which is in and around Saint Gilles and in the south in Saint Pierre has the maximum number of accommodation.

In Rwanda, people prefer simple food made of local ingredients. Corn, sweet potatoes, millet, peas and fruits constitute the main diet the locals. Sweet potatoes and porridge make the traditional breakfast. During your Rwanda tour, you will find that your dinner is the heaviest of all meals. Do not miss out the locally made beer there.

The official languages of Rwanda are English, Kinyarwanda and French and Bantu or Kinyarwanda is spoken by the common men.

During the Rwanda tours, you can definitely do some nice shopping. Check out items such as tribal clay statuettes, masks and charms and woven baskets.