Jane Goodall, a living legend

Jane Goodall is truly considered a living legend and with good reason.

At the age of 86, she still travels for most of the year in order to bear witness and inspire new generations to respect the environment and animals through the fight against climate change and a massive conservation policy.

Born in 1934 in England, at the age of twenty-three she moves to a friend in Kenya, where she meets the famous paleontologist Louis Leakey, a Kenyan of British origins.

Jane Goddall Chimpanzees

From this meeting a professional partnership is born and Jane agrees to go to Tanzania on Leakey’s behalf to study chimpanzees.

The destination is Gombe Stream Game Reserve and there she begins her study, making astonishing discoveries.

In 1961 she is admitted and successfully completes a PhD in ethology at the University of Cambridge and later returns to Gombe, where she founds the Gombe Stream Research Center.

Jane Goddall Chimpanzees

Leakey immediately understands the importance of Jane’s achievements and, stating that ‘her work has redefined the very concept of man’, organizes the documentation of these results with the National Geographic.

Thus comes Hugo, who works closely with Jane Goodall, filming, photographing and following her movements to produce material to support the discoveries she gradually makes.

The relationship between the two also becomes personal, they get married and have a child.

In 1968 Gombe officially becomes a national park and, parallel to her field work, Jane Goodall begins her teaching activity at Stanford, in the United States, and in 1977 founds the ‘Jane Goodall Institute’, which deals with the environment and is still active.

Jane’s study is revolutionary above all for the method adopted: it focuses on individual chimpanzees🐒 to study their different personalities and their social position. She wants to trace their history. She discovers the existence of strong family ties, feelings such as likes and dislikes, their lively intelligence and the pace at which they conceive.

She highlights the fact that they are carnivores, make tools and use them to achieve their purposes. Famous are the videos that portray them as they stick a twig in a termite mound to extract the termites and eat them.

At the beginning of her study, she was armed only with binoculars and a notebook in which to write her notes, then field assistants and new technologies arrive. She trains more than seventy new researchers between 1964 and 1975, the year in which a tragedy strikes the Gombe field. Four of these researchers are kidnapped by Congolese militiamen and she, along with the rest of the team, is forced to leave the forest.

Jane Goddall Chimpanzees

Of course this does not stop her, on the contrary, she takes more and more steps to find funds to finance what, until today, is the longest study on chimpanzees🐒 ever carried out, a study that has shown how similar chimpanzees🐒 are to humans.

There are still unanswered questions and much needs to be done to understand these extraordinary animals, but science has made great strides. New DNA discoveries have shown that chimpanzees and humans have similarities at an astounding 98.5%. Incredible indeed!! Also through the DNA, taken from the excrement, it has been possible to establish the paternity of the puppies, which Jane Goodall attributed at the beginning according to the physical and personality characteristics.

Over the years Jane has been able to see how they are territorial and also how they are capable of fighting and even committing killing and child killing for dominance. In short, they have shown that they can have a dark side like us!

Through their behaviors it has been possible to establish the choice of some adolescent females to leave the group of origin and to move to other groups, especially in the presence of many male siblings, or the opposite choice of staying if the mother is of high rank within the community,  can protect them and pass them the same rank.

In short, the research goes on. There is still much to discover about these close relatives of ours.

Today’s curiosity concerns Jane’s favorite sector: mothers and their way of taking care of their little ones, an attitude that has a strong effect on their adult life.

Jane has brought attention to the tiny park of Gombe and this attention has increased tourism and research funding.

She currently travels the world to speak out for this endangered species and to promote conservation. She has also created a group of young activists: ‘Roots and Shoots’. She has understood that in inspiring the new generations lies the key to change towards a more sustainable world that is attentive to the needs of all its creatures.

A true force of nature to whom we are all indebted. Thanks Jane!😍