I have always been a huge admirer of the inspirational primatologist that is Dr Jane Goodall. And over the years, I have been lucky enough to meet her on several occasions after being invited to her annual Roots & Shoots ceremonies in London – one of which I was honoured with the role of presenting the prizes alongside her on stage.
So when I discovered that National Geographic had made a documentary about her using footage from her first expeditions to Gombe in Africa during the 1960s, I couldn’t have been more excited to watch it.
In it, she talks about what she saw when she looked into a chimpanzees eyes. I remember the first time I truly looked into a chimpanzees eyes. It was at the UK’s primate sanctuary, called Monkey World in Dorset. It was the most incredible experience – watching him stare back at me, analysing every part of what he saw. But I felt this deep sadness in my heart. I felt like I could burst into tears at the thought of what humans are doing to our unique planet; harming these beautiful and intelligent animals by destroying the parts of the forest that they call home.
Jane made such revolutionary discoveries during her time in Africa. To think that she was the first human to have been truly accepted by a group of wild chimpanzees, the likes of whom most probably would have never encountered a human before, was remarkable. Seeing all of the newspaper clippings, from outlets breaking her wonderful story, made me think ” wow, what a time it must have been – for her, for women, for the whole world.”
The story of Flo and Flint, albeit incredibly sad, is a prime example that animals are sentient beings. They have feelings. They care and love one another just like we humans do, and equally have the capacity to grieve for family losses.
Watching the documentary, it was incredible to see how close she became with all the animals – not just the chimpanzees. Her passion for raising awareness of the threats chimpanzees are facing in the wild is clearer than clear. Since October 1986, she hasn’t spent more than three consecutive weeks in any one place. Applauding her for her hard work and dedication would be a severe understatement.
She is an inspiration. She is a role model. She is the real-life Dr Dolittle.
#246: If your day to day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?
That’s a tricky one! My first thought was that I’d throw myself into stopping the use and production of Palm Oil, and help conservation efforts protect endangered primates, such as orangutans, chimps and gorillas. For anyone who hasn’t been following my blog, this is something I’m fairly passionate about as I think primates are absolutely fascinating, but unfortunately the awareness of Palm Oil is still rather low. When you really look into it, it’s terrifying to see how many products contain this killer oil. To make everyone’s life easier however, the Rainforest Foundation have kindly put a database together, clearly indicating which products we should be avoiding! What are you waiting for… it couldn’t be easier!
However, the more I think about it, if all of my responsibilities were taken care of I’d put all my efforts into stopping terrorist organisations such as ISIS from killing more innocent people and journalists, finding the hundreds of school girls Boko Haram kidnapped five months ago and just putting a stop to extremists in general. How many more people need to be killed before these groups realise – war achieves nothing and never will.
#181: Describe your first memorable experience exploring and spending time in nature. Were you in awe? Or were you not impressed? Would you rather spend time in the forest or the city?
I’ve been thinking about this for at least 20 minutes and, quite sadly, have to admit that I can’t think of a single time where I’ve explored/spent a substantial amount of time (not even half an hour!) just taking in nature. I do remember when I was younger spending time lying on the grass, watching the butterflies flitting around our huge buddleia tree in the garden but I’m guessing that doesn’t count. Although I do remember how enchanting it was to watch them – sounds silly but they do have a mysterious way of moving and just being.
That said, I would love nothing more to go to somewhere like Borneo (Orangutans), Rwanda (Gorillas), Uganda (Chimpanzees), or even on an African Safari (Giraffes, Elephants, Lions etc) where I could simply sit and watch the wild animals live their lives. I can imagine that is an absolutely incredible thing to witness!