Chimpanzees: See no evil

They are highly intelligent, our nearest genetic relatives, yet chimpanzees remain persecuted and abused. Rachelle Thackray talks to their greatest, indefatigable champion. Photographs by Michael Nichols

The road has been a long and weary one for Jane Goodall, the Englishwoman whose single-minded dedication to chimpanzees has earned her recognition around the world. Despite nearly 40 years of campaigning for these engaging, intelligent animals, she still sees them hunted for their flesh, or paraded as novelty pets. Brutal Kinship, a book on which Goodall collaborated with photographer Michael Nichols, highlights a sinister new threat to chimpanzees - and other wild animals - from bush-meat hunters, who have been given access to untouched forest heartlands as a result of roads cut by logging companies deep into the Congo Basin. "Hunters are able to go in and kill as many as possible," says Goodall. "They are sun-drying or smoking the meat or even packing it fresh on the logging trucks. This is not to feed starving people. This is to cater for the cultural preference for the meat of wild animals." She is currently negotiating with the logging companies to put a stop to the killing and find substitutes for the traders. Goodall now spends much of her time on the lecture circuit, raising awareness of her work. After a PhD in ethology at Cambridge, she founded the Gombe Stream Research Centre in Tanzania. It became home to 120 chimps - among them Fifi, Flo and Frodo, the family made famous in the classic TV documentary.

The centre's 30 miles of woodland have become isolated as surrounding trees have been cut down to make way for farming. "It's as though the chimps are living on an island," explains Goodall. "They can no longer exchange genes with other groups and in the long term there will be the effects of in-breeding." In a bid to help save the dwindling natural environment, she has helped set up a programme for villagers from the shores of Lake Tanganyika to grow fruit and vegetables and plant trees. "We have now reached the stage where this can be replicated in other parts of Africa, so that the people themselves are helping to save the last forests," she says.

Sometimes the cruelty to chimpanzees is closer to home: Goodall was provoked by a recent US Airforce decision to hand over more than 100 creatures, which had been used for experimentation, to a toxicologist. They should go to a sanctuary, she argued, where they can live out their days in peace and quiet - something Goodall herself deserves. Apart from the occasional fortnight with her 94-year-old mother in England, or her grandchildren in Tanzania, her days are crammed with speaking and campaigning engagements. "I'm literally living in hotels. My spiritual home is Gombe - it's where I go to recharge my batteries. I had these wonderful, incredible years, living with the chimps, building the research station and getting knowledge. Now is the time for sharing". `Brutal Kinship' by Michael Nichols and Jane Goodall (Aperture, pounds 15.95) can be ordered from The Jane Goodall Institute UK, 15 Clarendon Park, Lymington, Hants SO41 8AX, 01590 671188; e-mail

Previous pages, clockwise from top left: a female Tai Forest chimp protects the corpse of her infant, which died after falling and probably breaking its neck; Whiskey, a five-year-old chimpanzee, held captive in a car-repair garage in Burundi; Jane Goodall with La Vielle, an aged female half-crazed from spending years alone in a Congolese zoo, La Vielle was moved to a nearby sanctuary in 1994.

This page, clockwise from top left: Sam, a former carnival chimp, which is now caged beside his owner's bar in Maineville, Ohio - in spite of posted signs, visitors sneak cigarettes to him which he lights for himself; a technician feeds a one-week-old research chimp at the Southwest Institute in San Antonio, Texas; 43-year-old Susie, a former performing chimpanzee, with owner Dan Westfall at his home in Palm Springs, California

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.


ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Training Officer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Training Officer is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

    Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

    £17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

    Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent