Jun 162017
 

A new study finds that small-scale mineral mining in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a critical factor in illegal poaching of great apes and other wildlife. It’s happening for the saddest, most basic of reasons, too: Those miners are hungry.

In fact, the miners have no other source of meat/protein. Sure, they’d eat beef, chicken or fish, but their circumstances prevent them from obtaining it. Needing a source of meat, they instead hunt and kill the animals they can find. They’re eating bushmeat from gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants and other animals.

The study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) surveyed small-scale miners over the course of three months. An artisanal or small-scale miner is essentially a subsistence miner. These men, women, and even children are not mining company employees. Rather, they work independently at mines, digging or panning for minerals with little to no equipment. They are among the 13 to 25 million people worldwide who scratch out a living in this way.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

In Africa, people become small-scale miners for a variety of reasons. For many, income from agriculture is dwindling. Poverty, regional conflicts, economic crisis or natural disasters push people toward seeing income from this difficult work. These people typically work at mines often controlled by armed groups.

In the DRC, miners are digging for gold, cassiterite (used to make tin), wolframite (used to make tungsten), and coltan (used in technology to manufacture items like cell phones). Yes, that means your mobile phone almost certainly was made using materials that came from miners sustained by bushmeat.

Between 8 and 10 million residents of DRC make their livelihoods from artisanal and small-scale mining. That’s 14-16 percent of the country’s population as of 2008. If all those people have to hunt to eat, it’s no wonder at-risk animal species populations are plummeting.

Silverback Grauer’s gorilla. Photo credit: Charlotte Spira/WCS

Indeed, the miners themselves realize the damage they’re doing. According to the study’s findings:

Almost all respondents stated openly that they consumed bushmeat regularly because of the lack of alternatives and believed that bushmeat hunting had caused declines and local extinctions of some large mammal populations, including great apes. Respondents stated they would reduce their consumption of bushmeat if domestic meats became more available.

“We’ve found most people don’t actually want to mine,” Andrew Plumptre, director of WCS’s Albertine Rift Program, told Wired magazine in 2016. “They tend to be young men who are trying to raise money for school fees or if there’s an emergency and they need medical support for their families.”

This problem has passed the point of crisis. For example, in the eastern DRC the number of Grauer’s gorillas, a critically endangered ape, declined by 77 percent over the past 20 years due to hunting – and miners have been doing much of that hunting.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

In raw numbers, that means while in1994 wehad about 16,900 Grauer’s gorillas, there are only about 3,800 left today. The single greatest cause of this population decimation is poaching by small-scale miners, says the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). What’s needed, says Richard Tshombe, Director for WCS’s Democratic Republic of Congo Program, is some alternative opportunities that would enable the subsistence miners to choose a different path.

“Developing sustainable business opportunities that can compete with the economic benefits of mining could support miners to pursue other avenues of employment and at the same time help ease the burden of mining in DRC’s most biodiverse landscapes,” Tshombe said in a WCS news release.

Cassiterite mine site. Photo credit: Guillan Mitamba/WCS

Miners need an alternative (and would take it, says the study) if it got them out of doing this type of work and subsisting on bushmeat. The DRC also needs to better regulate its mining sector located in forests outside of protected areas. To have any hope of reversing the incredible damage that uncontrolled mining is doing to the local ecosystems and animal populations, the armed groups that defend illegal mining operations also need to be stopped.

As long as armed gangs exert power and continue bringing guns to the forests, nothing will get better for the people or the animals in the Congo.

This article was first published by Care2.com on 08 Jun 2017.

 

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

 

 

Share on social media:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
Tommy Holsinger

They need birth control to thin the population

Sharon Brink

Aug 3, 2016 – Eat more plant proteins to live longer, say Harvard scientists …

Sharon Brink

Honeslty, grow some plants for food, they are proven healthier for people, for the earth/water/land, and well proven today.

Mars Greenwood

…humans are the plague of the earth. I’m not religious but the missionaries should be teaching how to grow gardens not preach the bible which has proven to do nothing helpful at all, for preserving life on the planet .

This should never happen in this day of mineral mining for tin its a world problem as this trade could be illegal as a black market product

Mars Greenwood

Why don’t they eat their own faily members~???

Mars Greenwood

Ron Barnes well, guess they need to change that…or eat each other.

Ron Barnes

Mars Greenwood They are eating the plants as well but as mwar earters they are basicly carnavoirs they naturaly need meat to survive .But I would not eat Monkey and apes as they have a lot of human charistics.

Mars Greenwood

Ron Barnes what wrong w/ all the plants there? and they should continue to eat their own families not the animals who have their own lives and families to love and have concern for….humans are the plague of the earth.

Ron Barnes

they did of past eat their dead and brains

Mars Greenwood

WTF~??? There are plants growing everywhere and can be re-propegated….humans are the plague of th earth…

wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2279 Views]
  2. Karma Strikes Again: Trophy Hunter Killed by Elephant [1124 Views]
  3. POLL: Should all circuses with wild animals be closed down? [977 Views]
  4. ‘Kill them, kill them, kill them’: the volunteer army plotting to wipe out Britain’s grey squirrels [820 Views]
  5. Bald Eagle Adopts Baby Hawk Instead of Eating Him [772 Views]
  6. $10,000 reward offered to find killer of famous Yellowstone white wolf [701 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the Grizzly Bear be removed from the Endangered Species List? [688 Views]
  8. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [642 Views]
  9. Heroic Boat Captain Rescues Entangled Great White Shark [622 Views]
  10. Elephants Can’t Wait to Meet New Rescued Baby at Sanctuary [617 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. White Killer Whale Adult Spotted for First Time in Wild [42100 Views]
  2. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farms? [16884 Views]
  3. POLL: Should Congress disband Wildlife “Killing” Services? [11108 Views]
  4. POLL: Should fur farming be banned in the European Union? [9198 Views]
  5. POLL: Should driven grouse-shooting be banned? [8679 Views]
  6. POLL: Should grouse shooting on highland estates be banned? [8246 Views]
  7. POLL: Should China’s dog meat festival be banned? [7448 Views]
  8. POLL: Should the killing of giraffes be outlawed? [4694 Views]
  9. POLL: Should the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroes be stopped? [4659 Views]
  10. POLL: Should Spain’s “Running of the Bulls” festival be banned? [4609 Views]