October 31, 2008
Goodall Branches into Humanitarian Cause
Primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall says African chimpanzees cannot be protected unless people's living conditions are improved.
Goodall, who will be in San Francisco Saturday to accept the Leakey Foundation's Leakey Prize in human evolutionary science, told the Los Angeles Times she added humanitarian efforts to her scientific research after noticing something once while flying over Gombe National Park in Tanzania, site of her groundbreaking chimpanzee research.
While the park's valleys were thickly forested, the area just outside had almost no trees and most wildlife have been eliminated due to the demands of a rapidly growing population, she observed.
People there were "struggling to survive," she said.
"It became very clear that there was no way to protect the chimps while the people were in this dire circumstance," Goodall told the newspaper.
So she created TACARE, or the Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education Project, which offers natural-resource management training and education and scholarships to keep girls in school, Goodall said.
"As women's education and empowerment improves, family size drops," she said.
A result: Thirty-two villages' families now have five surviving children, down from seven, and many villages "now have forests going again," Goodall said.
"The villages are so pleased with us that they have agreed ... to leave 10 percent to 20 percent of village land aside for conserving forest or regeneration," she said.
This means "the chimps will be able to get out of Gombe and rejoin with other groups," she said.