“Gombe 50”

Oct 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Youth Blog

Those of you who are familiar with Jane Goodall‘s work to protect chimpanzees in Africa (or who read National Geographic and have seen this month’s issue) may be aware that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Goodall beginning her work in Gombe, Tanzania. In these fifty years, it’s amazing how far scientists have come in their understanding of chimpanzee behavior, and how much conservation efforts have grown to protect wild chimps. I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Goodall lecture last weekend at the Roots & Shoots North American Training Summit, and am deeply awed by her brilliance and committment to these issues. Those of you who want to learn more about the story of Gombe can check out http://www.janegoodall.org/gombe50

More than anything, what Dr. Goodall’s talk taught me was that patience is everything, and some things, like research or conservation, really can’t be rushed. On the other hand, Dr. Goodall has accomplished an amazing amount in fifty years, and I see her as an inspiration for this reason, since I can’t even imagine where I’ll be in fifty years. Another interesting thing I learned at Dr. Goodall’s lecture was that she began her research in Gombe without even having completed a college degree, and then (still without a college degree) went straight into graduate school; I think this teaches a profound lesson, which is that as long as you are passionate about whatever your “big thing” is, you don’t have to have a certain set of degrees or be some number of years old to work on that issue – anybody can make a difference.

I want to just quickly mention that the fight to save wild chimps is definitely nowhere near finished, and these amazing organisms are still threatened by hunting, habitat destruction and disease. If you want to find out how you can get involved I urge you to check out the website I mentioned above or the “Take Action” section of the Jane Goodall Institute website (http://www.janegoodall.org/action); however, as Dr. Goodall often reminds us in her talks, the first and most important step towards making a difference is to become educated about the issue, and this in itself makes a difference.

Just to conclude, I thought I’d mention a final fact I heard this weekend: a lot of us have heard that chimps and humans share 99% of our DNA, but did you know that if you match the blood types you can actually successfully perform a blood transfusion between the two species? Makes you wonder if chimps are even more like humans in some ways than we already know….

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