Posted on 28th September 2021 by Media Relations
Gorillas are the largest and most powerful of all primates. With a genetic makeup almost 98% similar to humans, they are one of our closest living relatives. All four subspecies of Gorillas are classified as Critically Endangered and their current population trends are decreasing. Taronga cares for one of these subspecies – a family of Western Lowland Gorillas.
These rainforest dwellers showcase many human-like behaviours and emotions, including laughter and sadness. Sadly, vast areas of their forest homes have been lost through deforestation for timber and the mining industry.
Coltan, short for columbite tantalite, is a mineral ore in huge demand in today's high technology industries. Coltan and other minerals used in the production of electronics are found in the rainforests of central Africa where Gorillas and many other endangered animals live. Illegal mining in Africa destroys habitat and increases access, exposing previously untouched wilderness to exploitation, whilst miners also hunt animals for food.
Across the world, e-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams. The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 reported an increase in e-waste of 21% from 2014 to 2019. In Australia, there is now as many mobile phones as people, and e-waste is the fastest-growing component of the municipal solid waste stream (Clean Up Australia, 2021).
We can all do our bit to protect Gorillas and their habitat by recycling our old mobile phones, electronic tablets and their accessories. Taronga’s guest research indicates that 85% of people have at least one old phone or electronic tablet at home that could be recycled.
Recycling electronics helps in two ways:
- Minerals including coltan can be retrieved from the devices and reused, thereby reducing the demand for newly mined minerals from Gorilla habitat; and
- Money raised from recycled and refurbished mobile phones supports conservation projects in Africa
Taronga partners with Mobile Muster and Phone Cycle to collect, recycle and refurbish unwanted phones, tablets and accessories. To date we have recycled more than 56,000 mobile phones, which has generated over $92,000 in support of the Jane Goodall Institute Australia’s primate conservation work in the Maiko-Tanya Kahuzi-Biega ecosystem in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This recycling also equates to 110 tonnes of mineral resources saved, 21 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions prevented, and carbon sequestration benefits equal to having planted 570 trees (Mobile Muster calculator, 2021).
This World Gorilla Day, they’re calling on you to dig out your old devices and accessories. You can donate them on your next visit to Taronga Zoo, or arrange a free courier pick up if you have 10+ devices.