Honouring Jane Goodall, and 60 years of pioneering research with Great Apes

On 14 July 1960, a young woman arrived in Gombe, Tanzania, to observe our closest relatives: chimpanzees. Her name was Jane Goodall, and her work changed the world. Today, the Jane Goodall Institute celebrates the 60th anniversary of her arrival in Gombe, marking the beginning of her ground-breaking research.

In 2018, Gombe Masito Ugalla became a Biosphere Reserve, working with UNESCO’ Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. As the Jane Goodall Institute retraces their work in the site, their report highlights their strong connection with the very definition of what biosphere reserves stand for.

MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme that promotes research to better understand and manage changes and interactions between people and their environments. The same principles that Dr. Jane Goodall (DBE) applied in Tanzania would rule the MAB Programme, and biosphere reserves, from 1971 on.

Building on Dr Jane Goodall’s pioneering work over the past 60 years, the Jane Goodall Institute has monitored and surveyed biodiversity in Gombe. This results in a unique database on the evolution of the chimpanzees’ habitat and behaviour but also of the entire ecosystem. Obtained through binoculars in the early years and through new technologies today, all of this information has been used to further our knowledge of animal behaviour, health and welfare but also of habitats. This led to new initiatives for the conservation and regeneration of habitats with the local communities.