Save the Gibbons – Thanks to conservation efforts, most of us are aware of the plight of the great apes, particularly the gorilla and the orangutan.

In recent years, there have been many fundraising initiatives for these majestic creatures.

What many people do not know is that there is just one ape that is excluded from the category ‘great’.

This means the gibbon has missed out on the increased protection, publicity and funding afforded to its larger cousins.

This lack of awareness is likely to have contributed to its urgent conservation status.

There are 16 species of gibbon and all of them are threatened with extinction, with one considered vulnerable, eleven endangered and four critically endangered.

Believe it or not, the most critically endangered primate on earth is a gibbon!

A victim of discrimination

Excluding us humans, there are five apes, four of which are considered ‘great’, leaving just the gibbon, which has been labelled as the ‘lesser’ ape because of its smaller size.

This unfortunate term appears to have communicated the message that gibbons are less worthy of attention and support than their larger relatives.

Despite the gibbon’s many delightful characteristics, and their close similarity to humans, they receive little public attention.

One could be forgiven, considering how little we hear about them, for thinking that gibbons are less in danger of extinction than their more celebrated relatives.

Not a bit! The Hainan gibbon is the most critically endangered primate on earth with numbers plummeting from more than 2000 to less than 25 individuals since the 1950s (Source: IUCN).

Lack of awareness of the plight of the gibbon, both on a local and an international level, is a huge obstacle, and a major aim of our work is to address this problem.


The number one threat to the gibbon is habitat destruction and fragmentation – when areas of forest are left in small fragments making it difficult or impossible for these tree-dwelling primates to find a mate and produce offspring.

The main causes of habitat destruction have been timber felling and charcoal making, and forest clearance for conversion to palm oil, pine, rubber and tea plantations.

A particular example of habitat destruction on a huge scale is the vast swathes of peat swamp forest that have been burnt in Indonesia and on the island of Borneo to make way for palm oil and timber plantations.

This has destroyed the habitat of gibbons, orangutans and many other species of wildlife, as well as releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

The second greatest threat to gibbons is hunting; they are hunted for food, for the use of body parts in traditional medicine and for sale into the pet trade.

Young gibbons are seen as popular pets and people will often buy them in marketplaces without realising that the infant’s mother will have been shot to obtain the baby.

Also, as gibbons are fast-moving targets high up in the trees, many can be killed in a hunter’s attempts to catch one live baby.

Gold mining is another harmful activity currently taking place in some gibbon habitats in Asia, as well as affecting primates in other parts of the world.

On top of harming wildlife, the use of mercury in gold extraction is damaging to the environment and human health.

Gibbons are Great

Gibbons are amazing creatures; they are known for their spectacular swings and leaps. They are also talented singers.

They usually mate for life and most gibbon pairs develop their own unique duet. It is thought to help strengthen the bond between them as well as marking out their territory.

In this section, you can read the gibbon fact file to find out more and read what our celebrity supporters have to say about our very special relatives.

What We Do

At IPPL, we believe that primate protection efforts should be locally led.

We empower and invest in people and organisations based where primates are native.

Much of our financial and logistical support over the years has been for sanctuaries, which play a multi-faceted role in welfare and conservation.

As well as rescuing and caring for individuals, the sanctuaries help enforce the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Many of them also maintain reserves for wild primates and—vitally—carry out education programmes;

these help by teaching people why primates are an essential part of the ecosystem and instill respect and appreciation for primates and other wildlife.

We also support important conservation initiatives such as census work, investigations into illegal trafficking and anti-poaching programmes.

What You Can Do

Help support our appeal. You can donate to the Save the Gibbon appeal through our Just Giving webpage.

Download the track

Download Funky Gibbon 2010 by The Goodies feat. Gibbons.

The track costs just 79p with over 60% of the proceeds going to the Save the Gibbon campaign set up by the International Primate Protection League, a charity dedicated to the conservation of primates.

Buy now from iTunes or buy now from Amazon, coming soon to Spotify.

Buy Gibbon Goodies

Printed on 100% organic cotton and using a 100% organic printing process (accredited by the soil association).

Meg Mathews and design partner Rory Dobner have created a limited edition t-shirt to dress the nation and support the gibbons.

The t-shirt which costs £15 features the cheeky ‘Funky Gibbon’ character, who makes his living swinging along Bond Street pinching designer goods from the rich.

Or show your support with the ‘Who gives a Monkeys about Gibbons’ t-shirt for only £10, designed by the clever people at One Design.

You can also buy a Cuddly Gibbon soft toy or pick up one of our “I love Gibbons” badges to show your support even more.