As part of the United Arab Emirates University’s desire to disseminate knowledge throughout society the University College organized a lecture entitled “Reason for Hope for Our Planet” on Monday 18th of January 2016, in the Great Hall of the Crescent Building. There was a large gathering of UAEU students and faculty as well as students from the Higher Colleges of Technology and various schools. The lecture was delivered under the auspices of His Excellency Dr. Ali Rashid Al Noaimi, Vice Chancellor of the university and in the presence of Dr. Mohamed Al Baili, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs,
Dr. Jane Goodall is a world-renowned primatologist, environmentalist, humanitarian worker and the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute for Environmental Research. She is also president of the global humanitarian and educational program called ‘Roots& Shoots’ and was named as a UN messenger of peace in 2002. She is famous for her research into chimpanzees in the Gombe Animal Reserve in Tanzania.
Dr. Hassan Mohammed Al Naboodah said that, “UAEU is keen to promote links with scientists and researchers interested in the environment. Dr. Goodall is a good example of someone who values such partnerships for environmental conservation and sustainability.” He praised environmental organizations such as the Emirates Wildlife Society, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Al Ain Zoo, the Environment and Water Authority and everyone involved in the success of this event. This included some private companies working in the field of animal care.
Dr. Goodall was happy to lecture at UAEU and praised Abu Dhabi Emirate’s environmental projects in terms of generating power from both wind and sun. She said that other initiatives provided hope as nature is so resilient. She mentioned the Gombe Nature Reserve; planting mangroves in Abu Dhabi, conserving the Arabian Oryx, and the power of young people around the world to bring about positive change through the indomitable human spirit which is manifest in activism through community engagement and educational initiatives social networks and climate change marches.
She gave a presentation where she spoke about her childhood in Britain. She then went to Kenya and worked with paleontologist Dr. Louis Leakey. This gave her the opportunity to study wild chimpanzees in the Gombe Nature Reserve in Western Tanzania where she researched for over 55 years and discovered a lot of information about chimpanzees. She observed their dietary habits, use of tools and found many similarities between chimpanzees and humans. She described the family structure of these apes, their communication, physical movements and gestures as well as their more violent side. Chimpanzees eat fruit, and uses their intelligence in many ways. She succeeded in communicating with the chimpanzees and observed that they pass on traits from one generation to another. She mainly studied chimpanzees and can communicate with them and make herself understood, which she demonstrated to the audience.
She also warned of climate change and its impact on the planet, pointing out that carbon emissions and greenhouse gases have exacerbated the problem. She stressed the importance of preserving ecosystems, especially oceans and protecting them from contaminants. When water becomes acidic it destroys biodiversity. Then she described working with local communities in Africa to revitalize the forest.
She said that, “given the vast problems we face, it is not surprising that a lot of us may lose hope, but there is real hope that stems from the power of youth.” She further stressed that creativity is not limited to complex ideas but can be realized in simple things. She added that we should coexist with other animals and take care of endangered species.
Finally, Dr. Goodall showed a documentary about looking after chimpanzee orphans and how loyal these animals become to the people who care for them. The film showed chimpanzee that hugged her goodbye after his release into the wild. Dr. Goodall received a well-deserved ovation and then answered audience questions.