Conflict Minerals: Deadly for Great Apes

May 26, 2017

Photo Credit: (c) Charlotte Spira/WCS

A new WCS study has revealed that mining for valuable minerals in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a major driving factor in the illegal hunting of great apes and other wildlife.

The majority of individuals surveyed at mining camps during the 3-month study period said they hunted mostly out of necessity in the absence of any alternative protein, and would much prefer to eat beef, chicken, and fish, if they were available, instead of chimpanzee or gorilla.

Eastern DRC is known for its exceptional biodiversity, including threatened great ape species such as the endangered eastern chimpanzee and the critically endangered Grauer's gorilla. The region also contains significant deposits of valuable minerals such as gold, cassiterite (used to make tin), and coltan, a mineral in high demand for use in cell phones and other technology.

Photo Credit: (c) Charlotte Spira/WCS

In the eastern part of the country, mining operations have had devastating impacts on wildlife. Grauer's gorilla numbers have declined by 77 percent over the past 20 years due to hunting, which the presence of mining sites continues to fuel.

Rangers trying to protect wildlife face extreme danger as armed militias inside national parks occupy vast swaths of habitat, illegally controlling and exploiting access to minerals. The presence of armed groups results in a proliferation of weapons, facilitating both the hunting of great apes and a general breakdown in rule of law for local communities.

Please speak out on behalf of wildlife and demand an end to conflict minerals.

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