Friday, December 08, 2006

Jane Goodall Visits Taiwan to Continue To Raise Awareness to the Issues Affecting Chimpanzees and the World At Large

She continues to do great work. Here are links to two of her organizations. I encourage everyone to visit them:

http://www.rootsandshoots.org/

http://www.janegoodall.org/


“For Goodall, violent behavior towards humans by wild animals can be explained as a reaction to an intrusion into their natural habitats, which has continued to decrease over the years. "As human populations grow, people living in desperate poverty cut down more forests to try and grow crops," she explained to a packed auditorium full of students, who filled hallways and sat on floors to hear her speak at a National Taiwan University symposium entitled Lead the Way--Change the World.”

Article:

Jane Goodall promotes animal rights to younger generation

http://taiwanjournal.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?CtNode=122&xItem=23564


By Lisa Liang

Globe-trotting primatologist and humanitarian Jane Goodall welcomed her audiences in Taiwan with a pant-hoot, the greeting she learned while living amongst the chimpanzees of Tanzania: a gentle "woo" sound at first that starts off slow and soft, but quickly accelerates and crescendos into a high-pitched "hoo," which echoes and fills the air.

Arriving in Taipei on Oct. 27, Goodall's six-day tour of the island included a complimentary test ride on Taiwan's high-speed railway; a press conference at Chunghwa Telecom, where she inaugurated a new partnership between Taiwan's largest telecommunications company and the Jane Goodall Institute; and numerous visits to schools and universities promoting Roots and Shoots, the international youth program she founded in 1991.

"It's a symbolic name," she explained. "Roots make a firm foundation, shoots seem tiny; to reach the sun they can break through a brick wall. Imagine the brick wall as all the problems we have inflicted on the planet--environmental and social--and this is hope. Hundreds and thousands of young people around the world can break through and make it a better world."
Goodall's path to becoming one of the world's most influential figures has been far from ordinary. When she was in her early 20s, Goodall explained, she worked as a waitress to save enough money for a plane ticket to Africa, and journeyed to the "black continent"--as it was then commonly referred to--without a college education. There she met and impressed the late anthropologist Dr. Louis Leaky, who gave her a job as his secretary.

In the 1960s, following Leaky's encouragement, Goodall sacrificed the comforts of civilized society by moving into the jungles of Tanzania to live among the chimpanzees when she was just 26 years old. Soon after, Goodall shocked the science world by revealing that chimpanzees were capable of picking branches, stripping leaves and making sticks to fish termites out of logs--what now may seem to be a simple observation but was actually a seminal discovery at the time, she says, and one that forced scientists to confront the idea that man might not be the only toolmaker in the animal kingdom. From there, Goodall would go on to make further important discoveries, including, she told a group at the Dharma Drum Mountain World Center for Buddhist Education in Taipei County, that "chimpanzees have emotions, similar to those that we call happiness, sadness, fear, despair; they have a sense of self, and they have a sense of humor."

Goodall described to her audience at Dharma Drum Mountain how she, a "white ape," befriended many wild chimpanzees, including Flo, Fifi and David Graybeard--the first chimpanzee, she remembered, to have lost his fear of her. She also shared many stories about chimpanzees she is not fond of, "like Humphrey, who was some kind of psychopath and always attacked females, horribly, for no reason at all that I could see. And Frodo, who will hit me and drag me across the floor, I don't like him at all."

"They have a dark side to their nature," she said. "They're capable of extreme brutality, violence, even a kind of primitive war."

Yet, despite some terrifying experiences, including once having a chimpanzee in a medical research lab sever the tip of her right thumb, which now measures about a centimeter shorter than her left, Goodall maintains her love and compassion for chimpanzees, because "like us, they're also capable of love, compassion and altruism. And with each of us, it's a struggle as to which of those sides is going to come out on top."

For Goodall, violent behavior towards humans by wild animals can be explained as a reaction to an intrusion into their natural habitats, which has continued to decrease over the years. "As human populations grow, people living in desperate poverty cut down more forests to try and grow crops," she explained to a packed auditorium full of students, who filled hallways and sat on floors to hear her speak at a National Taiwan University symposium entitled Lead the Way--Change the World.

According to Goodall's estimates, the number of chimpanzees in the world has steadily dwindled, from one million in 1960 to no more than 200,000 today. Yet, she conceded, "How can people living without enough to eat think about saving chimpanzees or forests? How could we possibly even think about saving the chimpanzees in the face of so much human suffering?"
Goodall's research of chimpanzees has since evolved into a much larger concern: one of environmental degradation, of global warming, and now, even world peace. "As I began traveling around the world talking about the problems facing the chimpanzees and the African environment, I realized how this was all related to unsustainable lifestyles of the wealthy, related to the continual demand for these non-renewable natural resources," she said. "We could lose our hatred today, but if we don't learn to live in harmony with the environment, we will soon be fighting again. We fight today over oil, but we can live without oil. We cannot live without water."

Over the course of her visit to Taiwan, Goodall also described many times a feeling of sadness, pain and shame regarding the current state of the environment, which she holds her own generation largely responsible for. "I've met so many young people who seemed to have lost hope," she said, "who seemed either depressed, or bitter, angry, sometimes mad, or that it doesn't really matter what we do, it's hopeless anyway."

Upon witnessing such despair, Goodall was inspired to form Roots and Shoots, an organization that grew from a small gathering on the front porch of her home in Tanzania to an international program with an estimated 9,000 active groups, according to the organization. All activities are designed and carried out by young people, who are determined to make positive changes in the world. Currently, there are over 400 Roots and Shoots groups in Taiwan alone, a number that Goodall considered to be "pretty remarkable."

It is hard to imagine a time when Goodall had refused invitations to Taiwan because of its poor animal rights record, including cruelty to animals in such places as Taipei's Snake Alley and the illicit trade of orangutan babies on the island as pets. But, on behalf of the urging of Jason Hu, the former director-general of Taiwan's Government Information Office, the agency that publishes this paper, Goodall finally relented: In 1996, she made her first trip to Taiwan, and the first Roots and Shoots group was established a year later. Goodall has since incorporated Taiwan into her annual world tour, save 2003 when SARS prevented her visit.

Goodall joined many of Taiwan's Roots and Shoots groups, in addition to members of Taiwan's Green Party and Animals Taiwan, in an Oct. 28 parade past Taipei City Hall, where children, parents and supporters dressed up in animal costumes made from recyclable materials. "I was amazed at how imaginative some of the costumes were," Goodall told participants as the parade concluded at Municipal Xingya Junior High School. "I saw all kinds of animal life, from insects to reptiles, fishes, sharks, and all kinds of mammals and birds."

During her talk at the school following the parade, Goodall encouraged everyone to get in touch with their inner animals, conducting exercises in barking, meowing, and again--her specialty--the chimpanzee pant-hoot.

Such activities are how Goodall passes her time these days, and the majority of her visit to Taiwan was spent with children and young people, because, she believes, change will come through educating the next generation, hence the Roots and Shoots' focus on youth empowerment. "Cruelty to animals is because people haven't really understood," she said. "This is why I spend so much of my time talking to young people, because if young people get the opportunity to be with animals when they're small, they'll understand and never become cruel."

"It may not make much difference if you turn off the water when you clean your teeth, or turn off the light, or switch your engine off when you're idling," Goodall recognized. "But, if millions of people are doing those small things, then there is going to be massive change in the world."

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