Jane Goodall Institute, Programs See Change
Jane Goodall’s Bellingham appearance happened the same day as the release of a global report warning that without drastic action, we are headed for disastrous climate change faster than we thought — in just a couple of decades, rather than several. Her groundbreaking work with chimps, highlighted by her early career where she lived among and studied wild chimpanzees in Africa’s Gombe forest in Tanzania, has made her one of the world’s most enduring voices in conservation as well. Yet from the year 1900, the chimp population is down from 1 million to fewer than 340,000 today. Now, disastrous climate change is at our doorstep. How does she keep plowing ahead with her life’s work when everything seems so hopeless?
She answers by pointing out the scoured hills surrounding Gombe in 1990, where a growing human population had squeezed out the forest, and the epiphany that, as she and the Jane Goodall Institute helped the area’s impoverished people, the chimps’ lives would improve too. The institute’s “Take Care” program, Goodall says, brought technology and a new sense of ownership to 72 villages throughout the range of Tanzania’s last chimps. Residents have proudly learned to use smartphones and GPS to keep track of wildlife. The forest and the chimps are returning. Villagers have ‘‘become our partners in conservation, understanding that conserving the forest is important to their future as well as the chimps.”
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Goodall and ‘The Far Side’
Tacoma-born Gary Larson once included Jane Goodall in one of his “The Far Side” cartoons: A chimpanzee couple is on a tree branch, the female grooming the male. She finds an offending hair and says. “Well, well. Another blonde hair. Conducting a little more ‘research’ with that Jane Goodall tramp?” Which is hilarious enough, but it gets better. The executive director of the Jane Goodall Institute took offense, and Larson was horrified and apologized. But when Goodall emerged from a couple weeks in the forest and was shown the cartoon, she found it funny. Soon after, the institute had a new executive director, and the cartoon became one of Larson’s most popular. It wound up on a T-shirt, with sales proceeds going to the institute. Larson asked Goodall to write the foreword to one of his final books of cartoons, published prior to his 1995 retirement.