I'm Doug Johnson.
I'm Faith Lapidus with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Jane Goodall is one of the most well known
scientists in the world. She has spent most of her career studying wild
chimpanzees in a protected area of Tanzania called Gombe National Park. Over
the past fifty years, she has made very important discoveries about the social
behavior of chimpanzees.
Today, Miz Goodall spends most of her time traveling
around the world speaking about wildlife protection and working to build
support for her foundation. She recently wrote a book about endangered animals.
since she was a child growing up in England, Jane Goodall dreamed of working
with wild animals.
JANE GOODALL: "As long as I can remember, it was
animals, animals. Even before I could talk, I was watching earthworms and
things, reading Doctor Doolittle books, wanting to learn the language of
animals. Then finding the books about Tarzan, falling in love with Tarzan."
When she was about eleven years old, she
decided that she wanted to go to Africa to live with and write about animals.
But this was not the kind of thing young women growing up in the nineteen
forties usually did.
JANE GOODALL: "Apart from my mother, everybody
laughing, she would say if you really want something, you work hard, you take
advantage of opportunity, you never give up, you find a way. So, eventually a
school friend invited me to Africa."
In nineteen fifty-seven, Jane Goodall traveled to Africa.
She soon met the well-known scientist Louis Leakey and began working for him as
an assistant. He later asked her to study a group of chimpanzees living by a
lake in Tanzania. Very little was known about wild chimpanzees at the time.
Mister Leakey believed that learning more about these animals could help
explain the evolutionary past of humans.
JANE GOODALL: "That led to this extraordinary
opportunity to study, not just any animal, but chimpanzees. I wouldn't have
aspired to that. I mean, I had no degree. I wasn't qualified, I thought. He
Leakey thought Jane Goodall would be a perfect candidate for the job. She had
spent much of her time reading and writing about animals. And, she was not a
trained biologist. He believed this would keep her mind open to new
Observing chimps was not easy work. They were very shy
and would run away whenever Miz Goodall came near. She learned to watch them from far away using
binoculars. Over time, she slowly gained their trust. She gave the chimps human
names such as David Graybeard, Flo and Fifi.
the chimps human names was a very unusual method. Most researchers would have
identified the animals using numbers instead of names. But Miz Goodall believed that to understand
animal behavior, the observer had to see the animals as individuals, not as
interchangeable objects. Watching the chimps, she learned that they have very
different personalities, with complex family and social relationships.
Early on in her work at Gombe Miz Goodall made some very important and surprising discoveries. For example, many people then believed that chimpanzees only ate vegetables and
fruits. But she observed that they were also meat eaters and skilled hunters. A
few weeks later, she made an even more surprising discovery. She saw chimps
making and using tools to help them trap insects.
JANE GOODALL: "I suppose the first really significant
thing that the world heard about was chimpanzees using and making tools. It was
thought that only humans did this and that this set us apart from the rest of the
Jane Goodall wrote
Louis Leakey to tell him about her discovery. He responded by saying: "Now we
must redefine 'tool', redefine 'man', or accept chimpanzees as human."
Up to this point, Jane Goodall still did not have a
degree. She returned to England to begin working towards a doctorate in animal
behavioral science. She received her degree from Cambridge University in
Goodall spent many years studying chimps in this area of Tanzania. Today, the
research program at Gombe represents one of the longest continuous wildlife
studies in the world.
Miz Goodall has written many books for
adults and children about wild chimpanzees. Her scientific research was published
in the book "The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior."
explains her discoveries about chimp behavior, including the extremely close
relationship between mother and child. She describes the chimps' intelligence,
their hunting activities and their
sometimes extremely aggressive behavior.
Although she has spent her life trying
to protect chimps in their natural environment, these animals are still very
much in danger. Miz Goodall says when she began working in Tanzania, there
were between one and two million chimps in the wild. Today, she says there are
about three hundred thousand at the most.
JANE GOODALL: "It's different in different countries.
Chimps are in twenty-one nations. In countries like Tanzania, it's simply
habitat destruction. But when we come to where the large significant
populations are, which is the Congo basin, then we find that it's the bush meat
trade that's the commercial hunting of wild animals for food. And, it's made
possible by the logging companies, foreign logging companies, opening up the
forest with roads."
The destruction of the chimp's natural
environment led Miz Goodall to give her full attention to protection efforts.
She spends about three hundred days out of the year traveling around the world
to discuss her many projects and goals. She talks about the efforts of the Jane
Goodall Institute which she started in nineteen seventy-seven. Its aim is to
increase public understanding of great apes through research, education, and
group teaches local communities how to manage their resources in ways that help
them economically and protect the environment. It also has a sanctuary where
baby chimps whose parents have been killed by hunters can receive treatment and
Institute's "Roots and Shoots" program is aimed at getting young people
interested in environmental activism and leadership. The group has helped
connect young people who are interested in working to save animals and the
JANE GOODALL: "Hundreds of thousands of young people
around the world can break through and make this a better world for all living
things. Main message? Each one of us
makes a difference every single day we impact the world around us and if we
would just think about the consequences of the little choices we make -- what
we eat, wear, buy, how we interact with people, animals, the environment --then
we start making small changes and that can lead to the huge change that we must
Jane Goodall's most recent book is called "Hope for
Animals and Their World." It tells about efforts to save several species of endangered
JANE GOODALL: "I think the one story that inspired this
book was meeting a wonderful man called Don Mertin in New Zealand and he
explaining to me how he had saved a species of bird called a Black Robin when
there were just seven individuals left in the world of which only two were
female and only one of whom was fertile."
of the species Miz Goodall discusses in the book have completely disappeared
in the wild, and are only alive because they have been bred in captivity.
California condor is another such example. This huge bird used to live along
the West Coast of North America. By the nineteen eighties, there were only a
few condors left in the wild. In a disputed decision, officials took the wild
condors into captivity so that their breeding could be supervised and
protected. The goal of such programs is to later place the species back into
the wild. But preparing the captive bred condors to live in the wild again has
not been easy. Threats the condors face
in the wild include lead poisoning and mistaking trash for food.
Other species in the book still exist in the wild, but
are endangered. One example Jane Goodall discusses is the Golden Lion Tamarin.
She tells about the hard work of a group of researchers who have successfully
released these monkeys back into protected areas of Brazil. Her book shows what
is possible when people come together to work cooperatively to save animals.
Jane Goodall has said that it is often
easy to feel upset about the destruction of the natural world. But her overall
message has always been one of hope.
She says her hope comes from her belief in four things:
the human brain, the human spirit, nature's strength and the energy of young
people. She says people are starting to use their minds to solve the world's
many problems and make wiser and more responsible choices. And, she believes in
the strength of the human spirit which allows people to reach goals which might
otherwise seem impossible.
This program was written and
produced by Dana Demange. I'm Faith Lapidus.
And I'm Doug Johnson. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at
voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again
next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.
Additional reporting by Julie Taboh