Factsheet: African Great Apes | WWF

Factsheet: African Great Apes

Posted on
22 May 2007
Africa’s great apes are faced with a deadly combination of threats: destruction and degradation of their habitats, commercial hunting for bushmeat and live animal trade, and disease — all largely resulting from conflicts with humans who live alongside them. All African great apes — gorillas, chimpanzees, and Bonobos — have suffered population declines, and many experts predict they might well become extinct in the wild within the next half century. A huge effort is needed to ensure that African great apes continue to survive.

African great apes are ‘flagship’ species for their habitats - that is, charismatic representatives of the biodiversity within the complex ecosystems they inhabit. Because these animals need a lot of space to survive, their conservation will help maintain biological diversity and ecological integrity over extensive areas and so help many other species.

In 2002 WWF launched the African Great Apes Programme. Drawing on over 40 years of experience in great ape conservation, the programme's long-term aim is to conserve viable populations of all species and sub-species of African great apes, through improving protection and management, increasing public support, establishing conservation policies and laws to protect apes and their habitat, and reducing illegal trade in great apes and their body parts.
Bonobos, found only in the Congo Basin rainforests of the central Democratic Republic of Congo, are one of several great ape species under threat from bushmeat hunters and habitat loss.
© WWF / Russell A. Mittermeirer