Before reading these excerpts, I thought that Jane Goodall was only the lady who was obsessed with the chimpanzees. I had no idea she traveled so much and knew so much about conservations and its failures and triumphs around the world. She describes her four reasons for hope for saving endangered species as “our quite extraordinary intellect, the resilience of nature, the energy and commitment of informed young people who are empowered to act, and the indomitable human spirit.” She thinks that the abilities of people combined with the resilience of nature and dedicated individuals can turn back the damage we have caused to the earth’s species. She tells brief stories of restoration that gives evidence that it is really possible to repair what scars we have caused. A story from Kenya that took a barren waste to a self-sustaining habitat for thirty endangered species; a six year old’s dream of putting the trees back on a mountain; logging damage restoration; and the massive clean ups of various rivers and lakes that were so drastic that they were lifeless, but were full of life after restoration practices. She goes on to tell about China and how the people lost hope in the conservation of the environment that is made even worse by the fact that the country contains a fifth of the Earth’s population. People have made a big move from farming villages to the city in search of jobs and money. The cities have spread and the environment suffered. There has been efforts to repair the damage and conservation has begun to progress and land has been set aside just to be nature and not for some kind of monetary use. Her point is to tell us that it is never too late to repair damage done to the earth.
Goodall also believes that if more people got out into nature, and found a species or place to fall in love with, more help and conservation would be seen. People who love a wild animal feel obligated to help them live where they belong. Those that don’t care about animals or nature see endangered species as “just a bug” or “just a bird.” I think she is so right. I am not a big animal person and up until this point in my life, I have thought the same thing about saving endangered species. What difference would it make if the manatee were to go extinct? They’re just big, dumb, slow animals. Until you’re able to get up close to one. Every creature has a value, even if that value is just to exist. Wild animals are beautiful and interesting, and once you get close to one, you never forget it. A whole ecosystem relies on every piece of the puzzle to work properly, and the extinction of one, creates a niche that may or may not be filled by something else.
She says that “It is indeed true that the expense of saving an endangered species can be exorbitant, so it is fortunate that in many countries there are laws protecting life-forms threatened with extinction. Else the damage inflicted on the natural world would be even greater.” We are fortunate to live in a country where people even care at all about conservation. There are places in the world that are too busy and some too stricken with hardship to bother. The last sentence of the excerpts is my favorite. “If we are without hope we fall into apathy. Without hope nothing will change. That is why we feel it is so desperately important to share our own, irrepressible hope for the animals and their world.” This is so true. Hope keeps everything alive, and that’s true for everything, not just conservation.