TANZANIA, Africa (eTN) – Celebrating fifty years of monumental milestones for Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee research in Africa, the Tanzania government is looking to the United Nations to raise the status of Gombe National Park into a World Heritage Site.
Fifty years ago, in a month of July, Dr. Jane Goodall launched her lifetime research on chimpanzees in a rainforest reserve at Gombe stream in western Tanzania.
Tanzanian President Mr. Jakaya Kikwete said this week that the chimpanzee research, which started way back in 1960 with the observation of chimpanzee behaviors, had provided answers to many of the world’s compelling questions, such as how certain diseases are spread between humans and among primates.
He said when celebrating Dr. Jane Goodall’s 50 years of milestone research of chimpanzees, that Jane Goodall’s vision has produced a wealth of scientific knowledge and turned into a global mission to empower people to make a difference in comparing animal and human behavior for mankind.
A special function was organized in Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam to highlight Jane Goodall’s role in chimpanzee research and inspiring vision dubbed “Gombe 50,” at which President Kikwete was conferred with the 2010 Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award.
Jane Goodall founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in 1977, which ever since has become one of the longest-running studies in the world, applying a community-based conservation approach.
Her research work has provided solutions on how to balance the needs of people and nature, while preparing youth to address issues that environmentally impact their planet and their future.
Tanzania, according to President Kikwete, had greatly benefited from the work of the JGI community-driven conservation initiatives and integrated approach of supporting projects.
He said projects benefiting from the initiative include water, sanitation, health care, and education.
On her part, Dr. Jane Goodall said her half-a-century amazing discoveries has helped redefine “the natural world” and how much chimpanzees could teach human beings.
“It’s hard to believe that 50 years have passed since I began my study. My early findings show that chimpanzees make use of tools, eat meat, and engage in war-like activity. This has profoundly altered our understanding of what it means to be human,” she said.
Now aged 76, she exudes a calm confidence as she travels the world, promoting green causes established by the Jane Goodall Institute, which she set up in 1977 in order to promote research at Gombe and to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.
The chimpanzee behavioral research she pioneered there has produced a wealth of scientific discovery, and her vision has expanded into a global mission to empower people to make a difference for all living things.
When 26-year-old Jane Goodall arrived in Gombe on July 14, 1960, she had been instructed by famed anthropologist and paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey to observe the behavior of the resident chimpanzees in order to better understand humans.
The culmination of the first 20 years of the Gombe research, Dr. Goodall’s book titled, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, is recognized as a milestone in the understanding of wild chimpanzee behavior.
As a result of her original studies, researchers in many other institutions continue to carry out path-breaking analyses related to chimpanzee behavior and make new discoveries in this field.
Today, the Gombe research provides extensive insights into our closest relatives’ emotions, behaviors, and social structures.
But Gombe represents so much more. The ongoing research and the extensive conservation work carried on there by the Institute are helping answer such compelling questions as how certain diseases are spread, how to stop forest destruction, which contributes to climate change, and how to improve the plight of women in developing countries.
The impact of the Gombe research spans the globe and covers a wide range of scientific disciplines, including human evolution, ethology, anthropology, behavioral psychology, sociology, conservation, disease transmission (including HIV-AIDS), aging, and geospatial mapping.