Jane Goodall Institute Celebrates Half Centenary

2010 marks a very special year for the Jane Goodall Institute and its founder. Fifty years ago, Jane first set foot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, in what is now Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, and began the research that would inspire thousands of primatologists and conservationists, even to this day. Her story is an amazing one, starting with her saving her earnings as a waitress to make the trip abroad. She arrived with only a notebook, a pair of binoculars, a self-taught knowledge of the natural world, and an amazing enthusiasm for the world’s creatures. It is incredible to look at the wealth of achievement that has come from this, and I believe Jane’s is the perfect story to illustrate that anything can be achieved if you are passionate and dedicated enough. Becoming involved in animal research, especially for the conservation of endangered species, should not be viewed as an opportunity only for those lucky enough to hold a doctorate or similar. It is a cause that should embrace all that love and believe in it. Everyone can contribute, on whatever level, all you need is a bit of determination!

Congratulations to Jane and everyone who has been involved in her amazing projects over the years. You have inspired me and many, many others.


Chimps Cry Like Children

Primate experts at UK based St. Andrews University, have found that Chimps show a high level of Theory of Mind when calling for help from their peers.

Tests were conducted on wild troops in the Budongo Forest, Uganda, for 6 months, and the results show an expansion on the use of the cries over and above the simple reflex noise thought to be used by animals, simply to attract attention for help. When no other individuals were in the field of vision, help cries were at their minimum volume and frequency. However, when other individuals were in proximity the Chimp being ‘attacked’ increased its cries, and more so the higher ranking the individual being called to. Continue reading

The Reality of Bushmeat Hunting

The above video is a shocking visualisation of the Bushmeat trade. As large tracts of forest in Central and West Africa are opened up to logging and mining, commercial “bushmeat” hunting is threatening apes, chimpanzees and other endangered species with extinction.

“Bushmeat” is the name given to the flesh of wild animals killed in the forests and shrub lands of Africa. The International Fund for Animal Welfare [IFAW] and other partner organizations are working to find practical solutions to the bushmeat crisis.

+ The International Fund for Animal Welfare

Humanising Matthew


Animal rights activists in Austria have been campaigning to get a 26 year-old Chimp legally declared a person, but had their hopes dashed when the court judge threw the case out recently.

The shelter which has been housing the Chimp – called Matthew Hiasl Pan – is to be closed down due to lack of funds. Donors have offered financial aid to help, but there’s a catch – under Austrian law only A PERSON can receive monetary gifts, and as the individuals running the shelter have been declared bankrupt they are unable to receive gifts on Matthew’s behalf. Continue reading

Chimp Aggression: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone ban

Thirty-one Chimps escaped from their enclosure in a sanctuary in Sierra Leone and tragically malled one man to death and attacked four others. This is pertinent reminder to all of us that Chimps and other primates are wild animals and should remain that way.

The reason for their aggressive behaviour towards humans, is because the only contact they had before reaching the sanctuary is years of abuse at the hands of humans. It has only just been made illegal in Sierra Leone to hunt or capture Chimpanzees, and they have suffered terribly at our hands. It was human hunters that butchered their families and sold them as pets, and their human keepers that forced hurrendous things upon them such as drinking alcohol to perform, smashing their teeth out and locking them in tiny cages. No wonder they are angry, I would be.

News Headlines:
+ [25.07.07] CNN: Sierra Leone passes tough law to protect chimps.
+ [26.07.07] Sierra Leone Bans Capture, Killing of Chimps.

Dramatic cut in Chimp numbers

In 1900, Chimpanzee numbers were estimated at 1-2 million. Now, due to bushmeat hunting, habitat loss and illegal logging, the numbers have dropped to only 15,000 – that’s a loss of over 9,000 Chimps A YEAR. No population can withstand that sort of decimation, and if we do not act soon on the causes of this loss, we will sacrifice yet another species to unnecessary human rapacity.

Chimps are found in 21 African countries, mainly across the rainforest belt. However, now only fragmented areas of the belt remain after unyielding forest clearance, and they have been driven to the more dangerous woodland areas where they are more exposed to poachers.

Sierra Leone tackles illegal Chimpanzee trade?

From July 2007, it was declared illegal to capture and/or kill Chimpanzees in Sierra Leone by their Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Marine Rescources. One month’s grace has been given to current captive chimp owners to surrender them voluntarily before legal action is taken.

Sierra Leone has been a major exporter of Chimpanzees since the 1960s, and unfortunately this carried on unchecked under the black market well after they were declared an Endangered Species in the 1970s. So will this new law be enforced enough to make a difference? Or is it just another lipservice move by another corrupt goverment regime?