Famed naturalist Jane Goodall cries out on behalf of Earth’s animals.
Throughout the course of her 75 years, Jane Goodall has communed with humankind’s closest wild relatives and watched them, as a species, tumble almost to oblivion. Along with chimpanzees, with which her name is famously synonymous, Goodall has witnessed the forces of modernity push dozens of other animals to the edge of their vanishing points.
For Goodall, both hubris and tragedy reside in the fact that extinctions are being allowed to happen. The question is: What to do about it?
In her new book, Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink, there’s a take-home response.
Dreaming of a better world, Goodall notes, does not mean abandoning feelings of visceral anger; nor does it mean getting caught up in the despair and helplessness that would resign us to perpetual gloom. Although she recognizes that some eminent scientific authorities believe that we are experiencing Earth’s sixth major extinction episode, Goodall refuses to capitulate. “To keep up my spirits when I was tired and things seemed extra-bleak,” she explains, “I made a collection of what I call my ‘symbols of hope.’ ”
Her protagonists are not merely the intriguing animals still hanging on by a thread, but the people who have courageously stepped forward to offer a lifeline. If readers see something of themselves in the actions of field biologists and everyday citizens, then Goodall hopes that they, too, might be inspired to say enough is enough.
From the opening pages, there is somber reason to pause and reflect. The writers dedicate their book to the memory of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who died on September 1, 1914. And they mention Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkeys and the Yangtze River dolphins, the latter having vanished in the past few years due to overfishing, pollution, and the damming of China’s storied waterway.