As a child growing up in Tanzania in the early 1990’s, discovering the way of wildlife, and learning how to coexist with them, was inevitable. And nestled amongst the vastness of the animal kingdom, there was Jane. I can distinctly remember one of my favourite childhood books about Jane Goodall; the lady who worked with, and befriended chimpanzees.
Jane Goodall: Wildlife Warrior
Guest post by Farial Zaman. Farial is a graduate of the Masters of Development Studies from the University of Melbourne. She is currently working in the Education Management field in the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.
Jane Goodall is renowned for many ground-breaking discoveries relating to the behaviour and characteristics of chimpanzees, one of which was the observation of chimps using and making tools, which was previously thought to be a uniquely human behaviour.
However, for me, her first achievement stems from her feat of venturing into Africa by herself in a time when women were mostly confined by social norms of propriety and decorum. However, societal barriers did eventually catch up with her early in her career. When her mentor, palaeontologist/anthropologist Louis Leaky, had secured funding for Jane to conduct field research in the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve (now called Gombe National Park), the British government quelled the path for her to start: a woman should not be venturing alone into the Tanzanian wildnerness. After careful negitiation, and agreeing to allow her mother to accompany her, Jane was permitted to conduct her research.
When she started her research, patience was the key for achieving results. At Gombe, she would wait for hours to observe chimpanzees through her binoculars. Some days there would be no sighting of them. In fact, it took an entire year before she had their trust to get even remotely close to them. Since first learning about the decline in chimpanzee numbers (due to hunting and logging), she has been one of the most vocal and passionate advocates for primates worldwide. While preferring to be in Tanzania and close to her primate friends, Jane regularly travels the world, educating and inspiring millions of people on a variety of issues including wildlife conservation, habitat protection, human development and the humane and ethical treatment of animals.
Jane’s latest advocacy project is the international youth-led community action group “Roots & Shoots”, which engages young people in grassroots environmental and development issues. In effect, Jane is educating and up-skilling the next generation of change-makers who will continue her work and help finding solutions to global wildlife and environmental issues.
At 81 years old, Jane travels for up to 300 days a year, and believes that the earth can be saved by collective action, albeit sooner rather than later. When asked where she gets the energy to travel so much each year, she replies that she was “motivated by a sense of urgency”.
Jane Goodall; patient chimpanzee observer and true wildlife warrior. Support our partner charity, Jane Goodall Institute Australia, today.