© CI/Photo by John Martin
Development projects, such as mines and damns, can pollute, damage and destroy significant amounts
of habitat. Mining operations require large tracts of land to dump materials and waste, as well as the construction of roads
for transporting resources and personnel.
Similarly, the process of constructing dams creates pollution and waste, while the dam itself alters natural riparian zones and can flood out potential primate habitat. And both types of development projects bring temporary human populations to the region – carrying with them the threats of disease transmission and bushmeat hunting.
NARRATIVE: Read a first-person account of a trip to a bushmeat market in Equatorial Guinea
Coltan mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo illustrates the many ways development projects can negatively impact resident primate populations. Coltan is a metallic mineral used in products such as cell phones – however, the mining of this substance creates serious implications to the welfare of resident gorilla populations.
In May 2001, a report generated by the Born Free Foundation and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund created a laundry list of environmental damages resulting from coltan mines in this area.
Some of these damages included: "Forest clearance and use of timber and poles to build camps to accommodate workers; forest clearance to expose substrate for mining; pollution of streams by silt from washing process; Erosion of unprotected earth during rains leading to land-slips; cutting of firewood for warmth and cooking in camps; hunting of animals for bushmeat to feed miners and camp followers; animals maimed or dying after escaping from snares."
READ MORE: Habitat loss is also caused by fires, slash-and-burn agriculture and logging.