When Jane Goodall used her life savings in 1957 to travel to Africa, where she met famed archaeologist and paleontologist Louis S. B. Leakey and began to study primates, very little was known about one of humanity’s closest relatives. While likely more than 1 million chimpanzees roamed the African forests a century ago, today scientists estimate that there are 300,000 chimpanzees left in the wild. Fifty years after Jane’s groundbreaking work documenting chimpanzee behavior, The Jane Goodall Institute works to protect the increasingly-threatened animals and their habitat.
Take action: Sign up for a chance to win backstage passes to Jane’s live broadcast event in LA on September 27 or tickets to theaters showing the broadcast across the United States.
According to WWF, “Degradation of forests through logging, mining, farming, and other forms of land development is contributing to the decline of primate species throughout tropical Africa. Remaining habitat patches are often small and unconnected, leaving chimpanzee populations isolated.”
Additionally, human encroachment on remaining rainforest habitat threatens the chimpanzee in other ways: human settlements near chimpanzees introduce disease and support a network of poachers that kill chimpanzees and other forest primates for meat to sell in West Africa’s growing urban centers.
In the Ivory Coast, long a population stronghold, the chimpanzee’s numbers have plummeted by more than 90 percent in less than two decades. In spite of dire statistics, Jane Goodall sees reason to hope: “Everywhere I go, I see people making wiser choices, and more responsible ones,” she writes. Her other reasons include the indomitable human spirit, the resilience of nature, and the promise of young people today.
Conservation groups working to protect primates recognize the complex human social dynamic and economic pressures that must be addressed. Groups like the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) are working with local communities to establish sustainable economies and eco-tourism opportunities that give local people a tangible stake in the future of the chimpanzee.
Have you been inspired by Jane Goodall and the work that she’s done for 50 years? Then don’t miss your chance to enter Care2′s drawing for backstage passes to Jane’s live broadcast event in LA on September 27 or tickets to theaters showing the broadcast across the United States. The event will include a conversation between Jane and Angelina Jolie and more. Care2 will also be giving away tickets to neighborhood theaters across the U.S. for the one night Jane Goodall Live event. To register, visit www.care2.com/jane. (Only open to US residents)
Photo credit: flickr user fwooper