When the young Jane Goodall arrived at the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in Kigoma, northern Tanzania in July 1960 to study wild chimpanzees, she had no idea her studies on primate behaviour would redefine the relationship between humans and animals and make her a highly respected member of the scientific community.
The famous 81-year-old British naturalist and animal-rights activist shows no sign of wanting to retire from studying chimpanzees and protecting their habitat.
"There is still a lot for me to achieve, like expanding the Roots and Shoots clubs around the world. I can't retire," said Dr Goodall.
She was recently on field trips in Hoima and Masindi districts in western Uganda where she toured some of the Jane Goodall Institute project sites from June 20-22.
In 1977, Dr Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute and raise many of her endeavours are conducted under the auspices of the institute.
It supports continued research at Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve as part of efforts to protect chimpanzees and their habitat.
It is also widely recognised for establishing innovative community-centred conservation and development programmes and Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots -- a global environmental and humanitarian youth programme that has a presence in more than 130 countries.
The Gombe Stream Research Centre, which Dr Goodall established in 1965, eventually became a training ground for students interested in studying primates and, ultimately, ourselves.
Today, it hosts a skilled team of researchers and field assistants, including many Tanzanians.
The Jane Goodall Institute has some of the most detailed data on primates, which is critical to developing species and habitat conservation approaches.
Dr Goodall travels an average of 300 days per year, visiting schoolchildren and honouring speaking engagements on the threats facing chimpanzees and other environmental crises.
"I have to travel a lot to raise awareness of our work and to raise funds for support for our projects. The young people encourage me to keep travelling because they are the future," said Dr Goodall.
"We should encourage our children to know the importance of conservation and that is why I started Roots and Shoots. We need to equip them with information about tree planting in our environment and the role of animals," she added.
The fragmentation and degradation of the habitat along with illegal hunting are two of the most significant threats to chimpanzees in the wild. According to the Jane Goodall Institute, where chimpanzees once numbered perhaps one million at the turn of the 20th century, today there are fewer than 300,000 left in the wild.
Regarding the legacy she would like to leave, Dr Goodall said, "I want my legacy to be helping create a better understanding of all animals and the Roots and Shoots programme. It is not just a programme but a movement for change. It is changing the lives of the youth right from kindergarten through to university as well."
Source: The East African