Jane Goodall and chimpanzees, new film reviewed


This video says about itself:

First Look at Jane | National Geographic

5 October 2017

Dr. Jane Goodall’s groundbreaking chimpanzee research redefined what it means to be human. Brett Morgen’s critically acclaimed film JANE will be released in select theaters starting Oct. 20.

Jane Goodall started her research without having any university degree: her family could not afford that. Before her work in Gombe in Tanzania, no one had ever properly studied wild chimpanzees. Goodall managed to get gradually closer and closer to the chimps, until they no longer saw her as a danger. This way, she managed to discover much about ape behavior never recorded before.

On 7 January 2018, I saw the film Jane, the 40th film ever about Jane Goodall, in a packed cinema. Much of the material is 1960s-1980s footage by Goodall’s first husband Hugo van Lawick; it was thought to have been lost, but was found again in 2014. Interviews with the main character, now that she is 83 years old, were added.

Before I write more about the movie, I have to go back 27 years; to something, not mentioned in the film, but relevant to its content.

In 1991, an article appeared in the New York Review of Books in the USA, written by Lord Zuckerman. The article claimed there were big, unbridgeable differences between humans and apes. One of the books reviewed in the article is Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe, by Jane Goodall. Lord Zuckerman attacked Ms Goodall for being supposedly ‘anthropomorphic’ about chimpanzees.

Who was Lord Zuckerman? Lord Solly Zuckerman (1904–1993) was a South Africa-born British zoologist and military strategist. I don’t know if he ever made any mistakes in military strategy. He certainly made major mistakes in zoology. More precisely, about Jane Goodall and chimpanzees, thirty years before his New York Review of Books article.

Lord Zuckerman, like most establishment scientists until the 1960s, believed there was absolute patriarchal male supremacy among chimpanzees. Jane Goodall’s research proved that theory was not completely right. One may argue that Zuckerman himself was ‘guilty’ of anthropomorphism. Though different anthropomorphism from what he accused Jane Goodall of, as he projected human patriarchal societies into the world of chimpanzees and other animals.

A 2014 interview with Jane Goodall mentions:

If her [Goodall’s] Cambridge colleagues had been patronizing, it was nothing compared to the treatment she received at a symposium on primates held at the Zoological Society of London in April 1962. “I gave my first scientific presentation and was terrified, says Goodall. “I practiced for hours,” she says. “I was determined not to read and not to say ‘er’ or ‘um.’ I have remained true to that ever since.”

After three days of talks, the meeting came to a close with a speech by Sir Solly Zuckerman, an anatomist who had studied monkeys in Africa, and gone on to become secretary of the Society and chief science adviser to the Ministry of Defence. Although Goodall had been well received, Zuckerman took the opportunity to fire a volley of pointed comments at the twentysomething newcomer.

“There are those who are here and who prefer anecdote—and what I must confess I regard as sometimes unbounded speculation,” he told his audience, as recounted in Dale Peterson’s biography of Goodall, The Woman Who Redefined Man. “In scientific work it is far safer to base one’s major conclusions and generalizations on a concordant and large body of data than on a few contradictory and isolated observations, the explanation of which sometimes leaves a little to be desired.”

On the morning of 7 January 2018, Dutch primatologist Jan van Hooff told Vroege Vogels radio about his memories of that meeting. Jane Goodall had discovered that chimpanzees use tools. And not only use tools: make tools. That contradicted the establishment science consensus that only humans use tools. Louis Leakey said Ms Goodall’s research made it necessary to redefine humans. If one defines a human as Homo faber, the tool user, then chimpanzees should be called humans as well (later discoveries found that not only chimpanzees but also other animal species make and use tools).

Jane Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees sometimes eat meat, hunting other animals.

Lord Zuckerman was livid, Jan van Hooff recalls. The noble lord stormed toward biologist Desmond Morris, who had invited Jane Goodall, and said: ‘Who has invited this stupid wench to talk nonsense here? Everyone knows that chimpanzees do not make tools. Everyone knows that chimpanzees eat only plants.’

Van Hooff and Morris responded politely, Van Hooff remembers. As it is not clever to sharply contradict a secretary of the Zoological Society of London who is a nobleman as well.

The 2014 interview says:

This was not Goodall’s first run-in with Zuckerman. At the end of 1961, there had been a press conference at London Zoo to announce her preliminary findings—and she had hatched a plan to use this public platform to call for an improvement in the conditions of the captive chimps at the zoo. “There was a bare cage with a cement floor,” she explains. During the summer months, the chimps had no shade: “It got boiling hot and there was only one platform, the other had broken, so the male got that and the female had to sit on the floor. It was horrible.”

Before the meeting, over dinner with the diplomat Malcolm MacDonald (who had visited her briefly in Gombe and would become governor-general of Kenya in 1963), Goodall shared her intention to champion the welfare of the captive chimps: “I was really excited.”

But MacDonald, with his experience as a politician, could see a flaw. Speaking out on behalf of the chimps to a packed auditorium would be a direct criticism of Zuckerman’s leadership of the zoo. “Do you think he’s going to allow a little whipper-snapper who doesn’t even have a degree to tell him he’s in the wrong?” Goodall recalls MacDonald telling her. “You’ll make an enemy for life, and you don’t want an enemy like that.”

Instead, Goodall suggested several simple changes to the chimps’ enclosure that would improve their welfare, and MacDonald worked behind the scenes to see them implemented. “What I learned then is: Don’t let people lose face, don’t try to do something publicly until you’ve tried every which way to do it quietly. I’ve found that so helpful to me”, she says …

Naturally, Zuckerman took the credit for the improvements to the chimps’ enclosure. “I don’t mind two hoots as long as it gets done”, Goodall says.

Decades later, Professor Jan van Hooff asked his Dutch biology students who knew who Lord Zuckerman was. Not one student’s hand was raised. Then, he asked who knew about Jane Goodall. All hands went up. ‘So, you see’, Van Hooff said.

The film shows how Jane Goodall went into the Tanzanian forest alone. How good she was at climbing trees. That she was not afraid of snakes, including poisonous snakes, as they usually don’t bite unless you step on them. That she got to know the chimpanzees better and better, starting the longest ever continuous research of wild animals, continuing till now. She recorded how chimpanzees were born, grew up and died. She differentiated between individual characters; another one of her innovations.

National Geographic sent Hugo van Lawick to Gombe to film and photograph her work. This brought Jane Goodall and ‘her’ chimpanzees to the cover of the magazine. Hugo and Jane fell in love; married; went to national parks like Serengeti together; got a son; and eventually divorced.

In 2009, Michael Barker wrote this criticism of Jane Goodall:

In October 2008 the world renowned primatologist and United Nations Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall, traversed Australia, regaling packed houses with stories from her latest autobiographical book, Hope for Nature. Undertaking such whirlwind tours is the norm for Goodall. On average she spends some 300 days a year on the global lecture circuit to raise funds for her wide-ranging charitable activities. This gruelling schedule means that rather than conducting chimpanzee research, speaking engagements have tended to dominate her life over the past several decades. In an interview conducted last year by The Sydney Morning Herald she was asked what had prompted her to make this serious lifestyle change in the 1980s, Goodall replied:

Realising that chimpanzees were becoming extinct — the forests were going — and realising that the environmental and social problems of Africa could often be laid at the door of the elite communities around the world.

Yet despite recognizing that elites present a serious threat to the environment, she is adamant that the same elites will, with a little support from the public, provide the solutions to the very problems that they have created.

Bearing Goodall’s evidently optimist outlook in mind, it is fitting that she formerly served as a board member of the Humane Society of the U.S., a group that describes itself as “the nation’s largest… animal protection organization,” and is well supported by the elite community that Goodall apparently rails against. Here it is informative to point out that one particularly notable board member of the Humane Society is David Jhirad, who is currently the vice president for research and evaluation at the Rockefeller Foundation — an influential philanthropic group that happens to be a key democracy-manipulating organisation (see my earlier article “Pacifying Civil Society“). In addition to holding this influential position, Jhirad acts as the executive vice president of The Gemstar Group, an organisation that, according to their Web site, “work[s] with partners around the world in implementing market-based approaches to global environmental problems.” The president of The Gemstar Group, William Nitze, served as deputy assistant secretary of state for environment in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. …

Barker names other supporters of environment-destroying corporate capitalism, Big Oil corporation bigwigs etc. apparently trying to do ‘greenwashing‘ by associating with Dr Goodall’s pro-environment work. Work that apparently faces dilemmas like the WWF in Spain: which made King Juan Carlos its boss, only to discover that His Majesty killed elephants, and then having to sack him.

Barker concludes:

To surmise: the shady connections outlined within this article do not provide evidence to contradict the fact that Jane Goodall is a passionate and vocal orator on all things environmental. All the same, in spite of her evident passion, it seems more than probable that the message of hope that Goodall preaches worldwide is unlikely to promote environmental solutions that seriously challenge corporate power.

Maybe Ms Goodall’s 1961 experience of improving the London Zoo chimpanzees’ situation without a confrontation with the zoo establishment caused her to be over-optimistic on achieving change without confrontations with establishments. She supports the Green party in Britain; which sometimes does criticize the establishment, but sometimes does not go far enough in that.

Jane Goodall upset the scientific establishment and their wrong ideas. Unfortunately, she only partly sees through political and economic establishments and their wrong practices.

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Zanzibar red colobus monkeys, new study


This 2013 video from Tanzania is called Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey.

From the Wildlife Conservation Society:

Hope for one of the world’s rarest primates: First census of Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey

Three times as many as assumed, but population in decline

December 14, 2017

A team of WCS scientists recently completed the first-ever range-wide population census of the Zanzibar red colobus monkey (Piliocolobus kirkii) an endangered primate found only on the Zanzibar archipelago off the coast of East Africa.

The good news: there are more than three times as many Zanzibar red colobus monkeys (more than 5,800 individual animals) than previously thought, and many more monkeys living within protected areas than outside of them. And the bad news: survivorship of young animals is very low, species now extinct in 4 areas, forest habitat on which the primates and others species depend are rapidly being cleared for agriculture and tourism development projects and hunting is common.

The paper titled “Zanzibar’s endemic red colobus Piliocolobus kirkii: first systematic and total assessment of population, demography and distribution” has been published in the online version of the journal Oryx. The authors are: Tim R.B. Davenport; Said A. Fakih; Sylvanos P. Kimiti; Lydia U. Kleine; Lara S. Foley; and Daniela W. De Luca.

“Scientists have known about the Zanzibar red colobus monkey for 150 years, yet this is the first systematic study of this poorly understood species across its entire range,” said Dr. Tim Davenport, Director of WCS’s Tanzania Country Program and the lead author of the study. “The systematic assessment redefines almost everything we know about this amazing animal, and is now guiding effective management strategies for this species.”

Seeking to gain a better understanding of the status and ecological needs of the Zanzibar red colobus monkey, the WCS team of researchers spent two years (4,725 hours spent in the field) searching for and observing the arboreal primates. The surveys occurred both within and outside of protected areas on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja, and the scientists employed a new sweep census technique to collect data on group sizes and structures, demographics, and locations with the help of GPS devices.

The results of the study provided researchers with proof that Zanzibar’s protected areas are, to some extent, working. Some 69 percent of the population of Zanzibar red colobus monkeys live inside Unguja’s protected area network, and monkey groups found within protected areas boasted both higher average group sizes and more females per group.

Conversely, the assessment also highlighted challenges for conservation. Especially for the more than 30 percent of the monkey’s population that live outside of protected areas. The scientists discovered that four of the forests previously known to contain Zanzibar red colobus monkeys no longer do. Four other locations were found to contain only one family group, which are unlikely to survive in isolation.

One of the largest threats to the Zanzibar red colobus monkey is deforestation. Forests on Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja are being lost at a rate of more than 19 square kilometers per year due to agricultural activities, residential development, and human population growth. The hunting of monkeys for food and retaliation for crop raiding is also a concern.

The authors recommend creating a new protected area to further safeguard the Zanzibar red colobus monkey as well as increasing primate and forest tourism operations. The team has also suggested making the primate the official national animal of Zanzibar.

“The Zanzibar red colobus monkey is unique to Zanzibar and could be a wonderful example of how conservation efforts can succeed in protecting both wildlife and habitat, which in turn benefits communities” added Davenport, who recently presented the study’s results to the Zanzibar government. “The species could serve as a fitting symbol for both Zanzibar and the government’s foresight in wildlife management.”

WCS will work with the Government of Zanzibar to initiate a flagship species program that will protect both primates and the archipelago’s remaining forests.

Save Tanzania’s lesser flamingos


This video says about itself:

The Flamingo Factory

29 June 2017

In partnership with BirdLife International‘s global campaign to protect the last remaining breeding area for East Africa’s flamingos – and to support community livelihoods at Lake Natron, Tanzania – director Turk Pipkin and The Nobelity Project take a ten-year look at the East Africa’s greater and lesser flamingos, a migration of millions, that Sir David Attenborough called “The greatest ornithological spectacle on earth.”

To learn more about protecting Lake Natron and supporting local Masai communities, go to www.birdlife.org.

From BirdLife about this today:

The unique ecology at Lake Natron in Tanzania, with its high levels of soda attracting salt-loving algae, the favourite food for the Near-Threatened Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor, make it their most important breeding site in the world. Lesser Flamingos used to breed at Lake Magadi in Kenya, but heavy soda ash mining poisoned the water and altered the ecology of the lake, turning paradise into a life-threatening site for these pink birds. Flamingos can live for over 50 years in the wild, so many will remember having to uproot and move to Lake Natron, where through the help of supporters like you, BirdLife successfully blocked Tata Chemicals from building a second factory in 2010. Rather than creating a soda ash factory, BirdLife supporters preserved most important ‘Flamingo Factory’!

Despite this, the Tanzanian government still want to build a factory at Lake Natron. Thankfully, BirdLife’s work continues as a result of a new project funded by the UK Government Darwin Initiative. Its aim is to enhance ecotourism in the area, improve local livelihoods and watershed protection and to finally eliminate the threat of a factory, a polluted lake, damaged livelihood and the extinction of Lesser Flamingos.

Environmental protection is vital for Tanzania’s industrial economy plan: here.

Lake Natron, Tanzania and its wildlife


This video from Tanzania says about itself:

18 September 2012

The Alkaline tilapia of Lake Natron in Arusha, Tanzania. This kind of species are delicious food to … Flamingoes and Pelicans of Lake Natron in the village of Engaresero.

From BirdLife:

Irreplaceable – Lake Natron, Tanzania

By Zoltan Waliczky, 13 Oct 2016

Lake Natron is world famous for its breeding Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor, of which about half a million pairs regularly visit the lake for nesting and raising their young. There are also large numbers of other waterbirds, both migratory and resident.  Lake Natron is a shallow highly-saline lake in a closed basin on the floor of the Eastern Rift Valley. It is 1,540 km2, but only 50 cm deep. The IBA is also a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) but has no national protection status.

The biggest threat to the lake comes from plans to open one or more mines to exploit the rich soda ash deposits of the lake. This would not only affect the water levels and quality, and hence the breeding flamingos and other waterbirds, but also nature tourism, which is an important income generator in the wider area. In 2007-09, BirdLife led a campaign with support from the the Lake Natron Consultative Group (a coalition of 56 institutions), which successfully defeated a large-scale soda ash plant development at the site. Since then, BirdLife has implemented projects aimed at improving local communities’ livelihoods and boosting tourism.

Unfortunately, the lake is still not totally safe. Although the current government is in favour of conservation, the situation may change again in the future, so getting widespread support for conservation from local people is key to defending the lake from future attacks.

21 Mar 2018. After a 10 year battle, Tanzania’s ‘Flamingo Factory’ is safe. The Government of Tanzania has decided against building a soda ash factory on the shores of Lake Natron, thus ending a ten-year struggle of the fate of the waters: here.

Hippopotamus, herbivorous or carnivorous?


This video from Tanzania is called Serengeti – king hippo.

From Mammal Review:

Carnivory in the common hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius: implications for the ecology and epidemiology of anthrax in African landscapes

6 December 2015

Abstract

The common hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius (‘hippo’) is a keystone species whose foraging activities and behaviour have profound effects on the structure and dynamics of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within its habitat.

Although hippos are typically regarded as obligate herbivores and short-grass grazing specialists, field studies have demonstrated that hippos are facultative carnivores that consume flesh and intestinal tissues from the carcasses of other animals. Carnivory by hippos is not an aberrant behaviour restricted to particular individuals in certain localities, but a behaviour pattern that occurs within populations distributed in most of the hippo‘s current range in eastern and southern Africa. Carnivory is frequently associated with communal feeding involving multiple individuals or entire social groups of hippos.

The observed tendency of hippos to feed on carcasses, including those of other hippos, has important implications for the ecology and epidemiology of anthrax and other ungulate-associated zoonotic diseases in African landscapes. Scavenging and carnivory by hippos may explain why the spatiotemporal patterns and dynamics of anthrax mortality among hippos often differ markedly from those of other anthrax-susceptible herbivores within the same habitats, and why levels of hippo mortality from anthrax may be orders of magnitude higher than those of other anthrax-susceptible ungulate populations within the same localities.

Recognition of the role of carnivory as a key factor in modulating the dynamics of mass anthrax outbreaks in hippos can provide a basis for improved understanding and management of the effects of anthrax outbreaks in hippo and human populations.

Long-billed tailorbird research in Tanzania


Long-billed tailorbird

From BirdLife:

Survey success in Tanzania: 17 new territories found for Critically Endangered Long-billed Tailorbird

By Obaka Torto, Tue, 28/04/2015 – 14:13

Over the last year, intensive effort has been under way to survey and monitor the Critically Endangered Long-billed Tailorbird, in the East Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, to provide information on the species’ distribution and habitat requirements.

The Long-billed Tailorbird Artisornis moreaui occurs at only two locations: the Njesi plateau in northern Mozambique; and the East Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania, which holds the majority of the population. These sites are separated by almost 1000 km and, despite much searching, the species has not been observed elsewhere. The bird’s known range is just a few hundred square kilometers, an area substantially smaller than cities such as Nairobi or Dar es Salaam.

The Long-billed Tailorbird has an unusual ecology. It is strongly forest dependent, not occurring outside of the forest, or in forest fragments smaller than 300 ha. Moreover, the bird is restricted to relatively open parts of the forest, such as canopy gaps, stream lines and forest edges. Unfortunately, its habitat requirements and distribution coincides with the places where humans are also active, such as along streams and areas bordering the forest. Thus, habitat disturbance by humans often threatens this tailorbird.

Smallholder, subsistence agriculture as well as commercial crops have replaced over 60% of the indigenous forest. What remains is often heavily disturbed, severely fragmented, and degraded by numerous invasive plants, introduced to the Tanzania site via the development of the Amani Botanical Garden. Nesting sites are often destroyed due to bush clearance for agriculture or thatching. The frequency of observation along forest edges is about 30% lower than in forest interior, and edge territories tend to be occupied for shorter time spans, suggesting that birds often abandon their nesting sites due to higher levels of disturbance.

The BirdLife International project office in Tanzania, in collaboration with the RSPB, has initiated a multi-year project to conserve the endemic and threatened biodiversity of the East Usambaras, with a focus on the Long-billed Tailorbird. Over the last year, a top priority has been to carry out intensive field work to draw a high resolution map of the distribution of this species. A field team of local ornithologists have been trained to recognise the species: a small, skulking and often unobtrusive bird, which is well known for being difficult to observe.

Armed with GPS, binoculars, laser rangefinders and aerial photos, the local team have been combing an area of more than 200 km², recording all the observations with a resolution of a few metres. The resulting maps show a cluster of points that correspond to an estimate of 80-120 territories, some of which have been continuously occupied for about eight years. The map shows sites that have the highest concentration of observations, as well as where human activities are more likely to cause the highest levels of disturbance. This intensive fieldwork has resulted in the discovery of 17 new territories of this Critically Endangered bird: this is a fantastic breakthrough which will enable project staff to target conservation efforts and to provide more information on the status of the species.

Story by Dr Norbert Cordeiro, Dr Luca Borghesio, Alice Ward-Francis (RSPB) and Festo Semanini (BirdLife International)