Mobile phones for Gorillas and Bonobos

Project country: Democratic Republic of Congo

(Focus) animal species: Gorilla | Bonobo


The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most species-rich regions of the earth. Habitat destruction, civil wars, epidemics such as Ebola, and the mining industry all pose a threat to the wildlife of the Congo.

Both gorillas and bonobos are suffering from the spread of mining for gold and coltan.

Areas with Ebola infections have seen losses of up to 95% among western lowland gorillas.

The background

What does my mobile phone have to do with gorillas and bonobos? The rare ore coltan is one of many other metals used in mobile phones, and it is mined in the habitat of mountain gorillas and bonobos. The boom in mobile phones has led to an expansion of the coltan mines, and a consequent shrinking of the habitat for the apes. By collecting old mobile phones and passing them on for recycling, the pressure on coltan mining is reduced. At the same time, we receive a credit note for the mobile phones that benefits gorilla and bonobo protection projects. If you would like to pass on a mobile phone, please contact

Mbeli Bai project

In the Congo, Western lowland gorillas have claimed a unique habitat: huge, natural forest clearings, so-called Bais. Mbeli Bai is located in the southeast of the Nouabalé Ndoki National Park and comprises an area of 13 hectares. Here, 130 gorillas are found on a regular basis. Researchers of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are studying the dynamics of their coexistence and the factors affecting the growth and reproduction of the group. Only with this knowledge is it possible to work out protection concepts. The "Club Ebobo" (Congolese for gorilla) teaches school children about the importance of gorilla protection. Another important factor is ecotourism, which offers travellers the opportunity to view animals ’up close and persoal’. The money received flows into the project.

The successes

Since the start of the mobile phone campaign in spring 2009, Cologne Zoo has collected over 35,000 old phones for the protection of gorillas and bonobos. School classes and church communities in particular, but also companies and sports clubs have supported the campaign with large-scale collections. Many school classes combine their study of the topics "Rubbish" or "Rainforest" with a mobile phone collection.

Project Bonobo Alive

Bonobos are the apes that are most closely related to humans. They are only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, there they are regularly poached and their meat sold at markets. Bonobo Alive is a nature conservation organization that seeks to protect this unique ape species. Together with the local population and the Congolese nature protection agency, they are working on a sustainable alliance to protect bonobos from poachers.

Since the start of the mobile phone campaign in spring 2009, Cologne Zoo has collected over 35,000 old phones for the protection of gorillas and bonobos.

Join in and support our work.

[Translate to English:]

Source: (Status: 24.08.2018)


Not just better. Different.

Visit us on