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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chimpanzees' champion Jane Goodall finds reasons for optimism on Island

The enthusiasm and commitment of young people gives primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall hope for the future, despite the displays of greed, cruelty and destruction that she witnesses.

Goodall, who conducted groundbreaking research into chimpanzee behaviour, now travels the world talking about the need for protection, not just for chimpanzees, but for the world.
"We are surrounded by doom and gloom, and I believe the time will come when Mother Nature will say 'enough is enough,' but I don't think we have got there yet," said Goodall, who will give a public talk Saturday at Alix Goolden Performance Hall.

The talk, presented by the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and Royal Roads University, is titled "Reason for Hope: Exploring the Challenges of Science and Soul," and Goodall wants the audience to leave believing they can change the world.
"In our own lives, we can think about the choices we make and the consequences. Think about what we buy, where was it made, did it harm the environment, was it child slave labour and did it cause massive cruelty to animals," she said. "It may seem small, but when millions of people make those decisions it leads to change."
That is where the next generation is pivotal, said Goodall, 77, who is pinning her hope for the future on her Roots and Shoots program for young people, which started in 2009 and now has branches in 130 countries.
Each group works on three projects, to help animals, people and the environment.
"These young people are doing amazing things," said Goodall, who, during her visit to Canada, hopes to help spread word of the program to aboriginal groups.
A colleague will meet with two southern Vancouver Island bands and Goodall hopes she will also be able to meet First Nations young people on Vancouver Island.
Goodall, through her film Jane's Journey, has already put a spotlight on problems on North American reserves, from poverty to addiction and suicide.
"I know Roots and Shoots changes lives," she said.
Goodall lives in England, but spends at least 300 days a year travelling and giving talks. She believes many of the world's problems stem from people abandoning the aboriginal belief that decisions should take into account the effect on future generations.
"We say how will it affect me now or affect the next shareholders meeting," she said.
"Given we have lost that wisdom, there seems to be a disconnect between head and heart and we have to mend that.
"Humans have always been at their best at coming up with solutions when their backs are against the wall and I think, right now, we are beginning to feel our backs are against the wall."
For Goodall, the overriding reason for hope for the future is the resilience of Mother Nature.
Ecosystems that have been almost destroyed can bounce back and support wildlife and animals can be rescued from the brink of extinction, said Goodall, whose book Hope for Animals and Their World documents, among other species, the recovery of the Vancouver Island marmot population.
"It was nearly gone. Just think of the marmot," she said.
Tickets for Goodall's talk are available from the Royal and McPherson Theatres Society, 250-386-6121.

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