Decision : CONF 205 V.14
Kahuzi-Biega National Park (DRC)
V.14 Reports received by IUCN point to extensive poaching on wildlife, including on the endangered lowland gorillas and elephants. 90% of the Park is still inaccessible to the staff, the status of the lowland gorillas and the elephants is of serious concern. The Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund estimates that the population of the endangered lowland gorilla, about 8000 before the war, may have dropped to around 1000; elephants have become a rare sight in Kahuzi-Biega and most of the decline in the populations of these two flagship species is attributed to poaching by "coltan miners" and other illegal residents in the Park. Kahuzi-Biega has become the prime site in DRC for coltan mining. Coltan is a mixture of columbite and tantalite and is in high demand in its processed form by high-technology firms dealing with: nuclear medicine, electronic circuitry and computer chips, superconductivity research, mobile phones and synthesis of corrosion-resistant alloys for use in jet engines. More than 10,000 people entered Kahuzi-Biega for coltan mining and related activities over the last twelve months.