Jane Goodall, Ethologist and Conservationist
In this episode of Talks at GS, Jane Goodall, British ethologist and conservationist and famous for studying chimpanzees in Tanzania, discusses her groundbreaking research, her shift to environmental advocacy, as well as founding the Jane Goodall Institute and becoming a UN Messenger of Peace to fight climate change and preserve nature worldwide.
On being the first woman to study chimpanzees in the wild: “Well first of all, I went out to Kenya to stay with a friend… but at that time, 1960, they refused permission–can’t have this young girl coming out on her own. In the end they said ‘Yes but she must have a companion. She cannot come alone.’ So the volunteer was my amazing mother. We had money for six months, literally on a shoestring, and mom could stay four months. By the end of that the authorities were, ‘Well, Jane may be a bit crazy but she's all right.’”
On becoming an environmental activist: “It hit me when I flew over Gombe. It's a tiny national park, the smallest in Tanzania. And when I began, it was part of a great forest equatorial belt across Africa. And when I flew over in the late 1980s, I was shocked: There was a little island of forest that was the national park, and all around were completely bare hills. And that's when it hit me: If we don't help these people find ways of making a living without destroying the environment—cutting down the trees to get some fertile soil to grow food or to make charcoal—if we can't do that, then we can't save chimpanzees, forests or anything else.”
The episode was recorded on July 6, 2021.