Coltan and Gorillas

Thoroughly enjoyed Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon: And Other Tall Tales from the Periodic Table, but the following on how coltan is killing gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo rather pulled me up short

In just hours, a farmer could earn twenty times what his neighbour did all year, and as profits swelled, men abandoned their farms for prospecting. This upset Congo’s already shaky food supply, and people began hunting gorillas for meat, virtually wiping them out, as if they were so many buffalo.

I know that gorillas are under massive threat from human activities, in particular deforestation and the ongoing conflict, but did this really happen? Surely gorillas were poached because of lack of food caused by the region’s long-running conflict not because farmers decided to mine coltan? Is this another case of confusing cause and effect? Or am I wrong?

One thought on “Coltan and Gorillas

  1. Rob, if you get a chance, check out my latest, Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World’s Deadiest Place. I get into the deforestation/charcoal issue and how it affects the endangere mountain gorilla.

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