Gorillas massacred and driven to extinction – all for the sake of our mobile phones
The animals are being poached for bushmeat by militia groups and miners digging for an ore called coltan.
It contains tantalum, used to make capacitors in modern electronic devices.
Much of the globe’s coltan is mined here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Wildlife observers have witnessed whole families of gorillas being massacred by thugs with machine guns.
Eastern lowland gorillas, which are only found in the Congo, were recently added to the critically endangered species Red List, one step from extinction.
They are the largest primates on the planet.
Twenty years ago, before the Congo civil war – which has left 5.4 million people dead and still rumbles on today – there were 18,000. Now there are estimated to be just 3,800 left in the wild.
That is a population decline of 80% in a single generation.
Today the struggling rangers in the east of the Congo are begging for international assistance, or these magnificent animals could be gone for ever.
John Kahekwa, who recently received the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, tells me: “Twenty years ago, many tourists used to come gorilla trekking here.
“But the country has gone backwards so now the road is worn away and there are few facilities. We receive very few visitors.
“We very much want people to come back here, because the money from tourism will boost the local economy.