Dr Jane Goodall is well recognised for her study of wild chimpanzees, which she started in 1960 in Tanzania. She says when she began, it was only her, but by 1986 there were several different studies started. It was through this work that she decided she needed to do more to help save the changing landscape of the planet.
“It was at a conference in 1986, I helped put it together, it was to bring in one place the different people studying chimps in Africa … At that conference we had a study session on conservation. Most of it was behaviour, but this was conservation, and it was such a shock to see how right across Africa forests were disappearing and chimpanzee numbers were dropping.
“We also had a session on conditions in some captive situations, and that, in a way, was even more disturbing, seeing our closest relatives in medical research labs, in 5 foot by 5 foot cages. So I left that conference as an activist knowing I had to do what I could to help,” Dr Goodall explains.
Ever since then, Dr Goodall has been working to raise awareness and educate people around the world about the danger our planet is in. Through the establishment of the Jane Goodall Institute, which has branches all across the world, there is now a global community engaged and working towards the same goal.
Dr Goodall is in New Zealand during May 2019 for her Rewind the Future series, which travelled to Wellington, and will be in Auckland and Christchurch on 25 May and 30 May respectively. During this series Dr Goodall wants to point out what we’re doing to the planet, and how bizarre it is that the most intellectual creature to ever walk on this planet is destroying its only home.
“We have a window of time if we get together we can do things a bit differently, so that will make a difference to the future, but not if we carry on as business as usual.”
There are many different ways that people can make a difference to the planet on an individual level, and Dr Goodall acknowledges that every country has slightly different problems to address, but if we can start making considered choices about things like what we eat, buy, wear and how we interact with people, animals and the environment, we can make a positive impact on the planet.
“If we all make ethical choices, like what do you buy, where does it come from, how was it made, did it harm the environment, did it result in cruelty to animals, is it cheap because of child slave labour somewhere. If people start making ethical chances by the 100s and thousands and millions, you start to move towards a better world.”
The most important thing for Dr Goodall is working with young people. The Jane Goodall Institute has a Roots and Shoots programme, which started in Tanzania in 1991, and it all started because Dr Goodall was going around the world talking about the plight and the harm we’re doing to the planet, and the young people she was meeting had an impact on her.
“I was meeting so many young people who seemed to have lost hope. And they all said, you’ve compromised our future and there’s nothing we can do about it. We have compromised their future, hugely, but I think we have a window of time left where if we get together and work with the youth we can start healing some of the scars, and at least slow down the heating up of the planet and the climate emergency.”
Dr Goodall says that there’s one thing that’s important for people to understand.
“If we go on destroying the environment it’s not just wildlife, we’re destroying our children’s future, we’re stealing it. We depend on forests and oceans for giving us clean air, absorbing carbon dioxide and the rich tapestry that we call biodiversity. It’s so important, and as we gradually destroy it, we gradually destroy ecosystems and we destroy the future, our own future.”
Find out more about the Rewind the Future series, and book your tickets to the Auckland or Christchurch event: