Jane Goodall’s latest mission to save chimpanzees

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Jane Goodall is known across the globe as the world’s leading primatologist and an animal rights activist.

She spent the early 1960s in Tanzania, living among wild chimpanzees, gaining their trust and documenting their behaviors.

Goodall shared her findings with the world and revealed how much humankind has in common with these creatures.

Thirty years later, Goodall flew into Tanzania and was shocked by what she saw.

“I looked down from the plane and there was a little oasis, a little tiny 35 square mile Gombe National Park; and it was surrounded by completely bare hills. You know, there were basically just no trees left, and there were clearly more people living on that land than the land could support.”

Goodall realized the vast barren landscape divided the chimpanzee population into unsustainably small groups. The chimpanzees and their human neighbors were in desperate need of help.

“They were clearly too poor to buy food from elsewhere. The land was over-farmed and infertile, and there was terrible erosion because the slopes are really steep. It was pretty clear that, you know, unless we could do something to help the people there live a better life we couldn’t even try to save the chimpanzees.”

The Jane Goodall Institute established a micro-credit loan program for the villagers. The loans funded environmentally responsible farming.

The villagers learned how to care for the land while also providing for themselves and their families.

“You’ve seen this complete cycle of regeneration. Villagers’ lives improving. Education going up quickly, especially women, and the start in the downward trend in family size,” said Goodall.

In turn, the forest started to grow back. Those isolated chimpanzees reconnected as the trees filled in.

“Animals on the brink of extinction can be given another chance when people care and are determined.”

By Jacqueline Gulledge