Published: 14th July 2021
#ThrowbackToday: How Jane Goodall understood our closest relatives in the wild, chimpanzees
In today's #TBT, we tell you about the day it all started, when English primatologist and anthropologist started her long journey to understand chimpanzees and work for them tirelessly to this day
July 14 is a day of celebration solely because it was on this day in the year 1960 that British ethologist Jane Goodall arrived at what is today known as Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. This was the day she set into motion her research on wild chimpanzees which is considered ground-breaking in more ways than one. Her work is so important that this day is celebrated as World Chimpanzee Day across the world, dedicated as much to Goodall as to our closest relatives in the wild, chimpanzees.
It all started with David Greybeard, an older chimpanzee who was christened so by Goodall (which was actually against the practice of simply numbering them). It allowed the now 87-year-old to observe it and since David was a high-ranking male, it means others fell in line too. The most important discoveries she made were that chimpanzees actually eat meat, as opposed to the assumption that they are vegetarians. She slowly found that they made and used tools like inserting blades of dry and stiff grass deep inside termite holes to urge them out.
Soon, Goodall answered the call of conservation and activism as well and started the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in 1977 with the same aim. She continues to fight the good fight to this day not only for primates, but also for this world they and we inhabit.