The Great Apes
From George Schaller’s seminal studies of mountain gorillas in the Albertine Rift in 1959 to the 2008 discovery of more than 125,000 western lowland gorillas in the northern Republic of Congo by a team of WCS researchers, WCS has shown its commitment to saving Africa’s great apes. In fact, WCS is the only conservation organization working to protect all four gorilla subspecies. Our great ape conservation work also focuses on chimpanzees—our closest genetic relative—and Asia’s orangutans.
Chimpanzees, near relative to humans, form complex societies in Africa's forests, where they are vulnerable to habitat loss and the bushmeat trade.
The Cross River gorilla is found only along the southern part of the Cameroon-Nigeria border. Intensive agriculture and logging continue to carve these gorillas’ forest habitat into isolated blocks.
The largest of the four gorilla types, Grauer’s gorilla lives exclusively in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which has endured more than a decade of warfare and instability.
Mountain gorillas have thick coats that insulate them from the cold of their cloud forest homes. This endangered subspecies of gorilla exists in just two locations in equatorial Africa.
Shy creatures of the forest, orangutans are Asia’s largest primates, and its only great apes. Long ago found throughout East and Southeast Asia, they now live only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
An estimated 150,000 western lowland gorillas exist in the wild, but their numbers continue to decline due to demand for bushmeat, habitat destruction, and diseases like Ebola.