Sunday, October 10, 2004

GOODALL SOLDIERS ON

New mission for chimps' champion

She has devoted her career to saving primates. Now scientist and campaigner Jane Goodall is 70 and embroiled in the toughest fight of her life

There are not many women who in their seventieth year take on more commitments and get deeper into public controversy, but Jane Goodall, the world's leading primatologist, is not like other women.

While some her age draw pensions and play golf, she says she is 'on the road 300 days a year'. She criss-crosses the world giving lectures, meeting conservationists, pouring energy into her chimp sanctuaries and the environment youth movement she recently founded. She returns whenever she can to the Tanzanian forest home of the chimps who made her famous.

...now, says Goodall, the bushmeat trade is driving apes to the point of extinction. 'Dealing with this is massively harder. There's so much money involved. This isn't indigenous people hunting for subsistence. It's commercial exploitation. Loggers open up the forests with roads and commercial hunters follow. They kill everything - monkeys, antelopes birds - everything. The meat is smoked and the urban elite pay good prices. Some comes to Western restaurants. It's killing on a scale we've never seen before. Its raping the forests.'

Goodall has four sanctuaries burdened with the aftermath of slaughter. 'At Brazzaville alone there are 120 orphans. Many are traumatised after seeing their mothers killed. You can't rehabilitate them into the wild and many live to 60.' This has led some conservationists to ask: why pour resources into rescuing chimps that will never be released?

'Why? Because I value them as individuals,' says Goodall. 'That's what my work has been about. When you meet chimps you meet individual personalities. When a baby chimp looks at you it's just like a human baby. We have a responsibility to them.'...