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9 June 2011

Leading primate expert and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall is celebrating half a century of working on behalf of wildlife by visiting Australia to share her knowledge and passion.

She is placing the highest importance on inspiring today's youth to take up the challenge of protecting the planet's future.  Her youth organisation Roots & Shoots is active in 120 countries.

Dr. Goodall has achieved the rare distinction of having worked with the chimpanzees of Gombe for more than 50 years.

Among many ground-breaking discoveries, her research proved for the first time that humans were not the only species making and using tools.

The changes Dr. Goodall has witnessed in the circumstances of the Gombe chimpanzees mirror the issues facing wildlife species around the world, with human impacts such as poaching and deforestation responsible for drastic drops in their population.

Her visit creates a rare opportunity for Victorians to hear the views of a committed conservationist campaigning internationally to ensure a future for not only chimpanzees but wildlife worldwide.

On a previous visit to Melbourne Zoo in 2008, Dr. Goodall launched the ‘They're Calling on You' campaign to support gorilla conservation in Africa. 

Old mobile phones are collected to raise funds to protect gorillas in national park areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Some old phones can be refurbished to reduce demand for the component coltan, mined illegally in gorilla habitat, putting more pressure on their populations.

Since then, more than 60,000 phones have been donated, raising more than $30,000 to help fund the patrols of rangers working in the field to protect gorillas and their habitat.

Despite the environmental damage she has witnessed, Dr. Goodall remains hopeful that humans still have the time and capacity to protect the environment.

Her recent book ‘Hope for Nature' highlights projects which she sees as environmental beacons, setting an example of what can be achieved on behalf of the planet's future by protecting species at risk of extinction.

The book cites two successful Melbourne Zoo projects: the species survival breeding program for the endangered Lord Howe Island Stick Insect and the Scott's Tree Kangaroo conservation project in Papua New Guinea.