- Visit our zoos
- Whats on
- Fighting extinction
- Get involved
- About us
They're Calling on You
Protect gorillas on the brink of extinction - donate your old mobile phone today!
Zoos Victoria is committed to helping Australians become smarter phone users. Mobile phones donated to They're Calling on You raises much needed funds for primate conservation and reduces the demand for conflict minerals, such as coltan.
Zoos Victoria is working with conservation partners, Gorilla Doctors, who are protecting gorillas in the wild by securing their numbers through medical care, saving a species one patent at a time. Funds generated through the refurbishment and resale of old mobile phones through our recycling partners, PhoneCycle, support both Gorilla Doctors work in Africa and our own conservation programs.
Why has Zoos Victoria developed a mobile phone recycling program?
The program provides people with the opportunity to join Zoos Victoria and the Gorilla Doctors to conserve Africa’s primate species, simply by donating unused mobile phones. The program aims to raise awareness of coltan mining crisis, while exposing the link between mobile phones and primate species in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
What does the program hope to achieve?
The program contributes to wildlife conservation by:
- Lessening the demand for coltan mining in gorilla habitat
- Helping Zoos Victoria raise money to support primate conservation
- Diverting phones from landfill. Phones are refurbished and resold
What is coltan?
Coltan, short for columbite tantalite, is a rare and valuable metal in huge demand in today's high technology industries. It is used within many electronic devices such as mobile phones.
More than 6 billion people around the world currently use mobile phones (2013 U.N. report) and that figure is growing daily as devices upgrade and become more accessible for everyone to own.
How does coltan mining impact gorillas?
As pristine forest is cut down for mining of coltan, roads are paved to expose the once protected gorilla populations. Wildlife trade, bush meat, competition for land and diseases are all a threat to gorillas in the wild. Gorilla Doctors ensure the health and survival of Mountain and Eastern Lowland (Grauer's) Gorillas through veterinary and human health initiatives.
What happens to money raised through the program?
PhoneCycle donates a portion of the proceeds generated through the resale of refurbished mobile phones to Zoos Victoria. Almost 50% of this donation supports Zoos Victoria’s Conservation work, the remaining 50% is donated to the Gorilla Doctors to support their in-situ conservation work in Africa.
How is this recycling program different to others?
Phones donated through They're Calling On You raises much needed funds for primate conservation in the field while also diverting phones from landfill. If a phone is not fit to be resold, over 90% of the device will be recycled.
Are there alternatives to coltan?
A more expensive, synthetic alternative is currently available. However Zoos Victoria has been unable to obtain information outlining the environmental impacts of the production of this synthetic material. We therefore encourage people to take action against this issue by donating old mobile phones to the They’re Calling on You mobile phone recycling program to ensure that the coltan currently in our old phones does not go to waste.
What happens to the satchels once they have been distributed?
The plastic satchels are made from 50% recycled plastic and PhoneCycle will recycle these satchels along with the phones upon return.
Does Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo have the Eastern Lowland (Grauer's) Gorilla?
No. Our ex-situ conservation work is currently focused on the Western Lowland Gorilla as this is the species in our care. The gorillas in our zoo are ambassadors for their wild cousins, including both Mountain Gorillas and Eastern Lowland (Grauer's) Gorillas.
Do you know which telecommunication companies are perpetuating this illegal trade?
No. Although many telecommunication corporations claim that they are purchasing coltan from ‘ethical’ sources, the mining in the DRC continues. Once the coltan makes it onto the market it is impossible to track where the coltan has come from. Until adequate regulatory measures are put in place there will be no way of knowing for sure. Zoos Victoria therefore advises that recycling all phones is the best way for Australians to feel assured that they are contributing to the solution rather than the problem.
One of the biggest threats to gorillas is the illegal mining of coltan, a mineral used in mobile phones.
You can help protect gorillas in their natural habitat simply by donating your old phone:
- Money raised from donated phones will support Gorilla Doctors, an organisation working to protect Eastern Lowland (Grauer's) and Mountain Gorillas.
- Donated phones will be refurbished and resold or recycled for their parts. This gives the phones a second life and reduces the demands for coltan mining in threatened gorilla habitat.
Since 2008 Zoos Victoria's visitors have contributed to:
Phones saved from landfill
Raised for primate conservation