Abstract # 1831 Event # 1:

Scheduled for Monday, June 26, 2006 09:30 AM-10:30 AM: (Queen Elizabeth Theater) Plenary


Plenary Talk: Achievements and challenges in primatology: science and the preservation of man’s closest living relative

J. Goodall
The Jane Goodall Institute, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 600, Arlington, Va 22203, USA
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     Forty-six years ago, when the long-term study of chimpanzees was just beginning at Gombe, so little was known about primates in the wild that scientists focused on pure research. For the first decades at Gombe, we devoted ourselves to recording new observations - from the first observations of tools being made for termite fishing, to hunting, infanticide by females, organized intergroup aggression, and the remarkably strong and long lasting bonds among chimpanzee family members. From studies at Gombe and many other sites around the world, scientists gradually built up a picture of primate behavior, developed and tested theoretical models to explain behavior, and documented the amazing diversity not only among different species but also among different populations of the same species. Basic research continues to advance, and new technologies allow us to address exciting new questions. However, with the rapid growth of human populations in habitat countries, the devastating effects of bushmeat hunting, logging, habitat conversion and disease take their tolls. We have much left to learn about our primate cousins, but as scientists are increasingly realizing, urgent conservation efforts are needed now if future generations are to have any chance of unlocking the remaining secrets. At Gombe today, scientists are increasingly incorporating conservation into their research, from health monitoring and improving veterinary capacity within the park to working with local communities to restore habitat outside the park. More and more, study sites will come to resemble Gombe -- islands of habitat in a sea of human-altered landscape. In these managed landscapes, scientists will have an important role to play, providing critical data to help guide conservation work. Science will not only be responsible for studying these amazing creatures, it will also be responsible for saving them.