Good For All

For the celebrated primatologist Jane Goodall, ending poverty and conserving wildlife are a package deal.

March 16, 2015

“Then in the early 1990s, Goodall flew in a small plane directly over Gombe. It offered a new perspective on her tiny sliver of virgin forest, which was now surrounded on three sides by 52 rapidly expanding villages full of desperately poor people. In her comings and goings along the lake over the years, she noted some deforestation along the park’s borders, but that had not prepared her for the mile after mile of bare hills she could see from above. Gombe’s chimps needed to cross into suitable habitat outside the park to connect with other chimpanzee populations and maintain genetic diversity, but there would be no such habitat if poverty continued to force a growing human population to chop down trees for farmland and firewood. The flight convinced her that the chimps’ lot could not improve until that of the people living near them did. Goodall now spends about 300 days a year on the road advocating for forest conservation and sustainable development. ‘It never ceases to amaze me that there’s this person who travels around and does all these things,’ she told me one day in Burundi. ‘And it’s me. It doesn’t seem like me at all.’”

From “Jane Goodall is Still Wild at Heart,” Paul Tullis's New York Times Magazine piece on Jane Goodall's gradual transformation from chimpanzee-watching scientist to people-pleasing conservationist 


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