Human Genetics for the Social Sciences

Apes and Primates


Classification and Evolutionary history of the Apes

For pictures of our closest cousins click on the link below:



One of the saddest episodes of human history is occuring right now before our very eyes--without significant intervention our closest genetic cousins, the great apes, are likely to become extinct in the wild. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the orangutan population has dwindled to just over 10,000 and is particularly endangered in Sumatra. Mountain gorillas could become extict within a few years--only 600 or so live in their natural habitat today. Bonobos are rapidly declining and may become extinct in this century.

Why? Destruction of habitat is the major culprit. As human populations grow and require more territory they encroach on the forested areas home to the great apes. Hunting is taking a toll on bonobos and chimps, especially as firearms replace traditional weapons. Finally, there is a thriving black market in infant and young apes for zoos and circuses. The easiest way to capture on in the wild is to kill its mother.

Below are some links for associations and groups working hard to prevent the extinction of our closest relatives.

Primate Conservation & Welfare Society
Orangutan Foundation International
Jane Goodall Institute
Bonobo Protection Fund

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