Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bill Moyers Journal: Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall
Bill Moyers Journal

Dr. Jane Goodall is a familiar face to several generations around the globe. The young woman patiently seated near wild chimps in Africa first appeared in the pages of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC in the early 1960s. Her work with the chimps of Gombe National Park has been profiled in magazines, books, films and television documentaries numerous times in subsequent years. She is an inspiration to those generations who take her warnings about the state of the earth to heart:

I mean, isn't it great that high school students in some inner city area will greet me as I walk in, as though I were a pop star. That is so amazing. Because all that they've got out of what I've done is a message of hope. And the fact that our main message is "You make a difference every day. You matter. Your life is important."

Dr. Goodall now travels the world raising awareness about the dire situation facing the natural world — and many of its species. Her mission includes programs for communities in Africa to protect forests, create sustainable livelihoods and support health and education. The Jane Goodall Institute runs a global program to create a new generation of conservationists called Roots & Shoots.

The Sand Hill Cranes

Jane Goodall found a heroic conservation story far from the Tanzanian forests — the plains of Nebraska. There she participated in George Archibald's crane migration program. Archibald, founder of the International Crane Foundation, is credited with raising the population of 66 Whooping Cranes left in the wild to more than 350. His techniques include rearing cranes in human care, having human handlers wear crane costumes to avoid human imprinting and using ultra-light aircraft to lead cranes on migration flights.


Jane Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzees in Tanzania in June 1960, under the mentorship of anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. Her work at what was then called the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve would become the foundation of primatological research and redefine the relationship between humans and animals.

One of Jane's most significant discoveries came in her first year at Gombe, when she saw chimps stripping leaves off stems to make the stems useful for fishing termites out of nearby mounds. This and subsequent observations of Gombe chimps making and using tools would force science to rethink the definition that separated man from other animals: "man the toolmaker." Jane also observed chimps hunting and eating bushpigs and other animals, disproving the widely held belief that chimpanzees were primarily vegetarians.

Dr. Goodall defied scientific convention by giving the chimpanzees names instead of numbers and insisted on the validity of her observations that the chimps had distinct personalities, minds and emotions. She wrote of lasting chimpanzee family bonds. Through the years her work yielded surprising insights such as the discovery that chimps engage in a primitive kind of warfare.

Dr. Goodall established the Gombe Stream Research Center in 1965. Under the stewardship of Tanzanian field staff and other researchers, it continues Dr. Goodall's work today, making it one of the longest uninterrupted wildlife studies in existence.

In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which supports the Gombe work and other research, education and conservation and development programs. These include community-centered conservation efforts in Africa which provide local people with tools to build sustainable livelihoods while promoting regional conservation goals such as reforestation and an end to the illegal commercial bushmeat trade. JGI's Roots & Shoots program, which supports students from preschool through university in projects that benefit people, animals and the environment, today hosts about 8,000 groups in 96 countries.

Dr. Goodall travels an average 300 days per year, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her reasons for hope that humankind will solve the problems it has imposed on the earth. She continually urges her audiences to recognize their personal responsibility and ability to effect change through consumer action, lifestyle change and activism. Dr. Goodall's scores of honors include the Medal of Tanzania, the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal, Japan's prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research 2003, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, and the Gandhi/King Award for Nonviolence. In April 2002 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Dr. Goodall to serve as a United Nations "Messenger of Peace." In 2004, Prince Charles invested Dr. Goodall as a Dame of the British Empire, the female equivalent of knighthood. In 2006, Dr. Goodall received the and the French Legion of Honor, presented by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, as well as the UNESCO Gold Medal.

Dr. Goodall's list of publications is extensive, including two overviews of her work at Gombe - IN THE SHADOW OF MAN AND THROUGH A WINDOW - as well as two autobiographies in letters, the best-selling autobiography REASON FOR HOPE and many children's books. Her latest book is HOPE FOR ANIMALS AND THEIR WORLD: HOW ENDANGERED SPECIES ARE BEING RESCUED FROM THE BRINK. THE CHIMPANZEES OF GOMBE: PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR is recognized as the definitive work on chimpanzees and is the culmination of Jane Goodall's scientific career. Dr. Goodall has been the subject of numerous television documentaries and the film, JANE GOODALL'S WILD CHIMPANZEES (2002). In 2004, she was featured in two Discovery Channel Animal Planet specials-JANE GOODALL'S RETURN TO GOMBE and JANE GOODALL'S STATE OF THE GREAT APE.

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