Great apes

In both Africa and Asia, great apes – bonobos, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans – are rapidly losing much of their forest habitat to human activities such as agriculture, mining, and commercial logging.
Male silverback Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla); Male Bornean orang-utan (Pongo ... rel=
Left to Right: Male silverback Western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla); Male Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus); Pygmy chimpanzee or Bonobo (Pan paniscus); Chimpanzee mother & baby (Pan troglodytes).
© Left to Right: naturepl.com/T.J. Rich / WWF; David Lawson / WWF-UK; Russell A. Mittermeier / WWF-Canon; Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

Key facts

  • Species

    Pan paniscus (Bonobo); P. troglodytes (Chimpanzee); Gorilla beringei (Eastern Gorilla); G. gorilla (Western Gorilla)

  • Habitat

    Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf, semi deciduous and dry forests and montane woodlands in central Africa and southeast Asia

  • Population

    A few hundred to a few tens of thousands, depending on the subspecies

  • Status

    Endangered to Critically Endangered

Priority species

Great apes are a WWF priority species. WWF treats priority species as one of the most ecologically, economically and/or culturally important species on our planet. As such, we are working to ensure great apes can live and thrive in their natural habitats.

Victims of humans

Many African great ape populations are found in areas where civil wars are raging, making conservation difficult if not impossible. The hunting of forest animals for bushmeat, once a subsistence activity, has become a major commercial enterprise throughout west and central Africa. Habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as susceptibility to disease, also threaten some species and populations.

Asia's only great ape, the orangutan, is also in deep trouble. Its last remaining strongholds in the rainforests of Sumatra (Indonesia) and the island of Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia) are being destroyed by illegal logging, a proliferation of palm oil plantations, and by widespread forest fires, many set by plantation owners.

Find out more:
 / ©: Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon
Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage, Zambia.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon

What is WWF doing? 

In collaboration with governments, communities and partner organizations, WWF is working in Africa and Asia to save the great apes and their habitats.

» WWF African Great Apes Programme
» Work on orangutans

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