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Cellphones or Gorillas?

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO -- The 100 to 130 surviving Grauer's gorillas (Gorilla berebgei graueri) in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, are facing extinction because of growing demand for cellphones. The critical cellphone capacitors are made from the mineral colombo tantalite (coltan) and one of two known deposits of the mineral lies inside the park. The demand for 500 million new cellphones in 2001 has driven up the cost of coltan to the point that smugglers are now building illegal airstrips in the forests to spirit the coltan to foreign buyers. The Kahuzi-Biega Park, a United Nations World Heritage Site, is occupied by the invading armies of Rwanda and Uganda. Uganda has acted to protect the park; Rwanda has allowed thousands of miners to pillage the park, slaughtering wild monkeys and antelope for food.
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Publication:Earth Island Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6ZAIR
Date:Dec 22, 2001
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