Equipped with little more than a notebook, binoculars, and her fascination with wildlife, Jane Goodall braved a realm of unknowns to give the world a remarkable window into humankind's closest living relatives. Through nearly 60 years of groundbreaking work, Dr. Jane Goodall has not only shown us the urgent need to protect chimpanzees from extinction; she has also redefined species conservation to include the needs of local people and the environment.
In 1960, at the invitation of famed anthropologist and paleontologist Dr Louis Leakey, Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzee behaviour in what is now Tanzania. Her field research at what was then called Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve revolutionized the world of primatology and redefined the relationship between humans and animals.
When Jane Goodall entered the forest of Gombe, the world knew very little about chimpanzees, and even less about their unique genetic kinship to humans. She took an unorthodox approach in her field research, immersing herself in their habitat and their lives to experience their complex society as a neighbor rather than a distant observer and coming to understand them not only as a species but also as individuals with emotions and long-term bonds. Dr. Jane Goodall's discovery that chimpanzees make and use tools is considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship.
After years of living an idyllic existence in Gombe, Jane realized that the forests and the chimpanzees were disappearing. From a population of over one to two million just a century ago, to only 340,000, she knew something needed to be done. In 1977, she founded the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) to inspire hope through action around the world and for generations to come. When she realized that local communities were key to protecting Gombe’s chimpanzees, Jane pioneered community-centered conservation - known as Tacare—an approach that recognizes the central role local communities play in the well-being of wildlife and habitats.
In 1991, when a group of Tanzanian teenagers confided their deep concerns and desire to solve them, she created Root & Shoots—now a worldwide program that helps young people become the informed, compassionate citizens that the world urgently needs. JGI advances her visionary work through its leadership in chimpanzee protection and welfare, community-centered conservation, innovative use of emerging science and technology, and Roots & Shoots youth program with over 150,000 groups in more than 60 countries.
Since the 1980’s, Dr. Goodall’s commitment to using her voice to create change has caused her to travel an average 300 days per year. Her unique ability to inspire millions of individuals globally has become instrumental in her work to grow awareness about threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises, and her reasons for hope that we can build a better world before it is too late. 2020 marks the 60th anniversary of Jane's remarkable research and a celebration of the longest running wild chimpanzee study in the world carried out by the Jane Goodall Institute.
For more information about Dr. Goodall and the work of the Jane Goodall Institute, please visit www.janegoodall.org.