BioPark Experts discuss the deadly connection between cell phones and Great Ape habitats


Before upgrading your cell phone, make sure to recycle the old one..and consider the connection between cobalt mining and Ape habitats.

There’s a little-known and serious threat to Gorillas: the smartphone.

The Albuquerque BioPark’s Mammal Curator stopped by the KRQE studio to explain why: Coltan is an ore found in all sorts of everyday items, such as phones and PlayStation consoles. Eighty percent of the world’s supply is found in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also one of the last homes of the Great Apes.

“They mine it in rivers, kind of like the way they mined gold in California – very low tech,” says Craig Stanford, a biologist who spent years researching alongside celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall and is the author of Planet Without Apes (Belknap Press, 2012) and most recently The New Chimpanzee: A Twenty-First-Century Portrait of Our Closest Kin (Harvard University Press, 2018).

It’s not the mining itself that’s destructive, but the culture around it. Miners aren’t given meals or money. Instead, Stanford said, they’re given guns to hunt for their food and in turn, they end up eating endangered gorillas and chimps.

This, along with palm oil crops and related habitat loss, is leading to the likely extinction of Great Apes.

The BioPark is celebrating the conservation of Great Apes with a series of events this month, also known as Great Ape-ril. Saturday, April 28 will concentrate on Gorillas and Orangutans.

The ABQ BioPark is also hosting an event on Tuesday, May 8.

Dinner with world-renowned Orangutan expert, Dr. Graham L. Banes:

6:00pm-7:00pm Cocktail hour in front of Orangutan exhibit 

7:00pm-9:00pm Dinner and presentation from Graham L. Banes in Colores Building

Cost: $50 / person.

For more information on how to join the conservation effort, visit the ABQBioPark website.

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