Goodall makes plea for Africa
Famed primatologist Jane Goodall wants you to imagine you’re a dog.Imagine sticking your muzzle out a car window while tooling through the countryside. The wind flaps your ears. A smile lines your face. Your nose sucks in a world of sensory pleasures.It’s only by imagining our connections with other animals – whether they are dogs or chimpanzees – that humans will take their rightful place as caretakers, Goodall told a couple of hundred people in the Aspen Music Tent on Wednesday night. She was a featured speaker in the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival. She took the podium with two stuffed chimpanzees for company, and she let out a call she said chimps sometimes use to greet a new day.”We’re part of the animal kingdom, not separated from it,” Goodall said. “Embrace stewardship of the natural world instead of destroying it.”Goodall, who gained fame for landmark studies of chimpanzee behavior starting in Tanzania in 1960, laid out a convincing and downright depressing resume of human destruction. She cited many of the typical environmental ills, such as global warming.But Goodall was most effective at capturing the crowd’s attention when discussing the continent she knows so well and when unveiling environmental disasters that were less familiar to the crowd.Logging by big Western timber companies is gobbling African rain forest and wildlife habitat at a frightening rate, she said. Clear-cuts turn rain forests into deserts.Even if logging is done in a somewhat environmentally friendly way, construction of roads ushers in a litany of evils. It provides easier access to bush hunters, who slaughter everything from elephants to chimpanzees and antelope. They supply the meat to loggers, secluded African villages and to cities around the world where immigrants feel “they have a right to bush meat,” Goodall said.There were once an estimated 1 million chimpanzees in the equatorial areas of Africa. Now the population is down to 150,000 and dropping, according to Goodall. Even her Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve, made famous by her discoveries that chimps were smart enough to fashion sticks into tools to dig for termites, is suffering. It’s now a 30-square-mile island isolated from other chimpanzee populations.”I love Africa, and it hurts me to see what’s happening,” Goodall said.She started traveling the world in 1986 trying to raise awareness about global environmental issues and rallying people to find the will to find solutions. She founded the TACARE program, which teaches techniques such as sustainable farming and family planning in 33 African villages.The feelings of despair she encountered among young people around the world prompted her to create a different program called Roots and Shoots, which gets youth focused on environmental and social ills.In a particularly depressing moment, Goodall said young people frequently complain that her generation has ruined the world.”We have compromised our future and theirs,” she said.But Goodall also contended that humans have shown promise in tackling the problems. She said she will watch the upcoming G-8 Summit among the top Western countries in Scotland closely to see if meaningful progress is made in addressing poverty in Africa.She implored audience members to seek their own ways to get involved in solving environmental issues.”There’s a reason for hope if all of us do our part,” Goodall said.To learn more about Goodall’s work and her efforts to help Africa, visit the website for the Jane Goodall Institute at http://www.janegoodall.org.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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