Used to be Gibbons only genus, but still is the most widespread and biggest genus in the family

The genus Hylobates, comprising various species of gibbons, embodies the essence of arboreal primates with their remarkable adaptations to life in the treetops. Known as “forest walkers,” a name derived from the Greek words “hūlē” for forest and “bates” for one who treads, these lesser apes epitomize the agility and grace required to navigate the complex canopy of dense forests where they reside.

Hylobate species are quintessentially adapted to an arboreal lifestyle, spending most of their time high in the canopy of tropical rainforests across Southeast Asia, including parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and China. These forests provide not only the dense vegetation that facilitates their mode of locomotion, known as brachiation, but also a rich source of food in the form of fruits, leaves, and flowers. Brachiation allows them to swing from branch to branch using their long arms, moving swiftly and efficiently while rarely descending to the ground.

Gibbons in the Hylobates genus are known for their strong family bonds, typically forming monogamous pairs that mate for life. These pairs, along with their offspring, form tight-knit family units that defend territories against other gibbon families. Vocal communication plays a crucial role in their social life, with family members engaging in complex, melodious duets that serve to strengthen pair bonds, communicate with other families, and establish territorial boundaries.

Despite their adaptability and resilience, many species within the Hylobates genus face critical threats from human activities. Habitat destruction, primarily due to logging, agriculture, and the expansion of human settlements, has led to significant habitat loss and fragmentation. This not only reduces the available living space for gibbons but also isolates populations, making it difficult for individuals to find mates and maintain genetic diversity. Additionally, hunting for bushmeat and the illegal pet trade further exacerbate the decline of gibbon populations, with some species now listed as highly endangered.