Illegal mining hits Congo gorilla population: conservationists

By Ed Stoddard JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The world’s largest gorilla sub-species has seen its population fall 77 percent over the past two decades, a trend linked to illegal mining for coltan, a key mineral used in the production of cell phones and electronics, a new report has found. Grauer’s gorilla, the planet’s biggest primate which can weigh up to 400 pounds (180 kgs), is found in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where minerals have been plundered for decades under the smokescreen of conflict and instability. A report this week by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Fauna & Flora International found that its numbers had fallen to 3,800 from an estimated 17,000 in 1995.

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