Distribution of the Great Apes (Including Us)

great apes.png

Chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans – these are our closest relatives. There were once many other species of human (members of the genus Homo), but since the last one became extinct 11,500 years ago, Homo sapiens have progressively dissociated themselves from the rest of the animal kingdom. While it might sometimes be difficult to see ourselves in cephalopods or reptiles, there’s no denying that we bear a strong resemblance to our fellow primates in particular. If our speciesist hubris bears any responsibility for today’s ecological crises, then surely the solution must include humbling ourselves and recognizing our relatedness to all beings.

This is a simple map showing the current ranges for the eight living great ape species. It’s otherwise unremarkable except for the inclusion of the forgotten ape – us. Seeing ourselves as part of a wider biological group – from hominids, to animals, to part of the biosphere – we begin to undo the false sense of separateness. If we are to save Nature, we must realize that we are in fact Nature defending itself.

Note that ranges for different species do overlap. Gorillas share most of their habitat with chimpanzees, and all great apes share their habitats with humans.

This map – Distribution of the Great Apes by Jordan Engel – can be reused under the Decolonial Media License 0.1.


  1. i’ve started decolonializing my language and instead of “invasive species” i call them “biological success stories” – i suggest you start doing the some.


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