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Cleveland’s connections to protecting the world’s gorillas

Gorillas are among the one million species on Earth that are at risk for extinction.

CLEVELAND — Dr. Tara Stoinski is the president and CEO of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, the world’s largest and longest-running organization dedicated to gorilla conservation. 

She was invited to Cleveland recently to speak to business leaders about the impact technology is having on the gorillas' home.

“We can learn a lot from gorillas,” said Stoinski. “Just like us, they form friendships that last a lifetime. They mourn the loss of a family member, and they take care of our most vulnerable.”

Dr. Stoinski has dedicated her life to studying gorillas in their forest habit in Africa. Recently, conservation, not the Cavaliers, took center court at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as Stoinski shared with Cleveland business leaders the dangers facing gorillas.

“A lot of people don't realize how at risk gorillas are of extinction and the impact that things like technology are having on them and their forest homes,” stated Stoniski.

The "technology" she refers to includes phones and laptops, because the natural resources needed to make our tech work is mined in Africa. MCPC, a Cleveland based technology management company, is leading the way in sustainable IT. Their recycle process removes the needed minerals out of old tech to ease the demand on mining.

“So, if we were mining out of these devices and recycling them and extracting the minerals out of them instead of extracting them so much out of the earth, we could reduce our impact on these habitats,” said Michael Trebilcock, the Managing Director of MCPC.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has strong ties to Cleveland, having been supported by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for almost 30 years.

“We have a very active partnership where Cleveland Metroparks Zoo actually sends their staff to work with our teams in Rwanda and help build the next generation of conservationists in Africa,” said Stoniski.

The mountain gorilla is the only great ape increasing in number, but there are only 1,000 of them left, so it is still a fragile population. That drives Stoinski’s passion even further.

“Every day they surprise us with something new,” said Stoniski. “We see so much of ourselves reflected back in them and to be able to spread the message of why these animals are so important and how unique and special they are is really an honor.”

The theme of the event was "the power of everyone." It will take continued years of conservation and support to give gorillas a future. 

“When we work together as a business community here in Cleveland, we can have a massive impact on problems that are happening around the world,” said Trebilcock.

MCPC’s 2021 Earth Day recycling event at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo diverted close to 16,000 pounds of e-waste from landfills. They will hold the event again this year if you are looking to get rid of the old technology around your home.

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