Have you ever
dreamed about being Tarzan and living in the jungle with wild
animals? Dr. Jane Goodall did! She loved animals as a child, and her
mother encouraged her to follow her dreams. After saving up money,
she was able to buy a ticket to Africa to visit a friend. There she
found work as a secretary for Louis Leakey. He later gave her the
opportunity to voyage into the jungle and study chimpanzees.
any formal training and with her mom by her side, she set up camp in
Tanzania’s rainforest at Gombe Stream Reserve when she was only in
her twenties. Can you imagine going into the unknown jungle with no
previous experience at such a young age!? Just goes to prove how
courageous and resourceful Dr. Goodall was and still is!
many weeks of patiently waiting for the chimpanzees to get used to
her presence in their forest, Dr. Jane Goodall made two extremely
important discoveries that changed our view of chimpanzees. The
first discovery was that chimpanzees make and use tools, a skill
thought only to be done by humans. The first form of tool use that
Dr. Jane recorded is called termite fishing. The other discovery was that
chimpanzees were not vegetarians but omnivores (meat and plant
eaters) like we are. Dr. Goodall had witnessed a chimpanzee eating a
baby bush pig.
discovered that chimpanzees can have a nice side and a mean side
just like humans do. In other words, they have emotions and
personalities just like us. At the time, many people doubted this
but Jane strongly defended her findings. Based on what you have been
learning, do you think that each chimp has its own individuality?
She also had to defend the fact that when studying the chimpanzees
she gave them names; something that was not thought of as
scientific. Throughout her research, Dr. Goodall has done many
studies on the chimpanzee’s way of life and is one of the most
influential animal behaviorists of our time.
times and bad, Jane Goodall has managed to change how we view
chimpanzees and the natural world. She and her work have been
featured in many television specials and articles she has written
many books and now after Dr. Goodall’s many years in research, she
turned her attention toward conservation. Gombe was made a national
park in 1968. She now travels the world building education centers
and educating the public about chimpanzees. She founded the Jane
Goodall Institute (JGI) which is a nonprofit organization that
inspires people to make a difference for all living things. This
organization educates the world and creates a community of young
people that care for the world around them. Dr. Goodall has set up
education centers throughout Africa with the hopes of spreading
information about and love for our closest relatives. Because of Dr.
Jane Goodall’s efforts, we have a better understanding of our
relationship to chimps and how to preserve them in the wild.
Hopefully, one day your children will be able to see chimpanzees in
the wild and not just in picture books.
Toshisada Nishida is a Japanese primatologist and professor at
Kyoto University. Dr. Toshisada is the pioneer of the second longest
field study of wild chimpanzees, with Dr. Goodall’s study being the
longest. Just like Jane Goodall his research on the behavior and
life of chimpanzees was ground breaking. Dr. Nishida has served as
the executive director of the Japan Monkey Centre and as the editor
in chief of the journal, Primates.
Nishida led an initiative that lasted more than a decade to help
create the Mahale Mountains National Park. In 1967 Nishida made his
first petition to isolate a game preserve in the area. These efforts
helped lead to the establishment of the Mahale Mountains Wildlife
Research Centre in 1979 and finally the Mahale Mountains National
Park in 1985. Could you imagine the hard work it must have taken to
get a piece of land set aside for chimpanzees?
In 2008 the
Leaky foundation awarded the Leakey Prize to Dr. Toshisada Nishida
and Dr. Jane Goodall, each receiving a sum of $25, 000. The prize
was awarded to Nishida and Goodall due to the valuable contribution
that their chimpanzee research had to the study of human
In order to research chimpanzees,
scientists go to different forests in central Africa and set up
research stations. These research stations are found
everywhere chimpanzees are. Stations can be found in Uganda,
Tanzania, the Ivory Coast and other countries in Africa. Each
station does its own research; some look at how chimps hunt monkeys
and some research is done to find how closely related the
chimpanzees are to each other. Chimpanzees are our closest
evolutionary relative, so doing research with them is important
because it shows us how our own ancestors might have lived and how
they might have acted.
Mahale Mountains Chimpanzee Research Project
Bossou-Nimba Chimpanze Research Project
Republic of Guinea
Budongo Conservation Field Station
Fongoli Savanna Chimpanzee Project
Kibale Chimpanzee Project
The largest research stations in
Africa are found on this map. One you may already know is the Gombe
Stream Research Station that Jane Goodall started. The other
researcher we talked about, Toshisada Nishida, started the Mahale
Mountains Chimpanzee Research Station. All of the data from these
researchers are teaching us a lot about our evolutionary cousins. In Budongo the head researcher Dr. Fred Babweteera is studying how we
affect chimpanzees and how they affect us. These studies in Budongo
will help us find a way for chimps and humans to coexist and be able
to share the forest. At another research station called Fongoli
researchers found that chimps are able to use sticks to help them
become better hunters. Hopefully by knowing more about this type of
hunting we can learn about how our ancestors may have started
hunting. This research station is headed by researcher Jill
D. Pruetz. She and her team have also found that their chimps do
more termite fishing than any other group of chimpanzees studied.
Another important research station
is the Kibale station that was started by Dr. Gilbert
Isabirye-Basuta and is now headed by Dr. Emily Otali. This station
studies all parts of chimpanzee life but they do a lot of research
on how different chimpanzees act around each other. There has been
30 years of important research published from this site and it has
been very helpful in figuring out how chimpanzee society works.
This research sounds like a lot of
fun right? Well, with hard work anyone can get the chance to study
chimps and maybe one day you can be a researcher like these guys! To
do this you have to learn a lot of chimpanzee biology and behavior;
it pays to be prepared and know what to look for. Plus, you also
would have to travel a long way to Africa to study the chimps in
their natural habitat.
Message from CAC'ers
we were in Tanzania we went to Mahale and to Gombe, and we
got to see both of the research stations!
We learned in CAC that the two most important
things a researcher must have is patience and a positive
attitude. When we were watching the chimps with the
researchers at Gombe and Mahale much of our time was spent
waiting and watching because you can’t always predict where
animals will be, or what they will be doing. This wasn’t
boring at all though, because the entire time we were
surrounded by nature; there was always something to
discover. Even when the chimpanzees were lying around
sleeping we were still able to learn about them by studying
the plants they eat and the environment they live in.