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Discussion Period with Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall visited Kita-Ochiai Elementary School in Tokyo on November 24, 1998 and talked about her experience with chimpanzees in Africa spanning 38 years. The talk started at 10:40 and lasted until 12:20, the third and fourth periods at school. All sixth graders, ages 11 to 12, attended. After the speech, students asked Dr. Goodall some questions.
Child Research Net was honored to be able to sponsor this wonderful opportunity and to witness the lively interaction between Dr. Goodall and the children on chimpanzees, the environment and what we can do to make the world a better place for all living beings. This was Dr. Jane Goodall's second visit to CRN, but each time is such a refreshing and fruitful experience for us.
(S: students ; G: Dr.Goodall).
How do chimpanzees live with their families?
S: My name is K.T.. How many members are there in an average family?
G: Two or three. So Fifi's family is unusual. With a high death rate just the humans in the area.
S: How many chimpanzees are there in a group?
G: In our area, about 50. The fifty include ten large males and few more females and infants and juveniles. But, young females very often move into other groups. So, of Fifi's two daughters, Fanny has stayed with her mother and Flossy has moved into next group.
S: How many babies does a chimpanzee have at most?
G: Well, I can't tell. I have to wait a few years to see how many Fifi has. She has had eight babies and one died. And, they have lots of problems when they have that many just like the local people in the area. Since most chimps don't bear more than two, the population in the limited area does not change over the years, so they haven't destroyed their environment.
S: My name is S.O.. How do fathers behave towards the families?
G: Very good question. We don't usually know which male the father is. There may be eight or ten males in a group and they all mate with the same female. But, I can say that, when necessary, all those males act as fathers to all the infants in their group, look after them, or rescue them. Also they have the very important job of patrolling the edge of their territory and keeping strangers away to protect their food of their own children and females.
S: What do chimpanzees do when a member of their family dies? Do they bury the dead body?
G: No, they don't bury the body. The mother will carry the body of her dead baby for several days. Eventually, she leaves it on the ground and forest grows over it. When the mother dies, her young ones repeatedly go back, look at her, grieve, and then eventually, leave.
What do chimpanzees eat?
S: What are the chimpanzee's favorite food?
G: Fruit. Lots of different wild fruit. When food gets ripe on trees, they get excited because it's different, like seeds or nuts. They like all of kinds of things.
S: My name is T.O.. I watched a video showing a chimpanzee eating a baboon. What other kinds of animals do chimpanzees eat?
G: Well, in different places in Africa, they eat different kinds of animals, but mostly young animals, bush bugs, goat-size antelopes and bush pigs. But, in terms of their diet throughout the year, the amount of meat they eat isn't more than 2%. It's very little.
S: Do chimpanzees eat fish?
G: We haven't had any reports of chimpanzees eating fish anywhere in Africa, but baboons do.
S: Do chimpanzees share food?
G: After hunting, when males end up with a big portion of a carcass, they share pieces with friends. In western Africa, there's a very big fruit like this, about 50 centimeters, which is quite hard to get. That is shared as well.
Do chimpanzees use tools?
S: My name is S.Y.. Do chimpanzees use any tools for hunting?
G: Well, once I saw them throwing rocks to scare pigs away. The pigs ran away and the chimpanzees grabbed the baby pigs. So, they mostly use tools to get different kinds of food. They get water from little holes in trees, crumple up leaves and suck water. And, if there's something a bit frightening and they want to learn about it, they use a long stick to touch and sniff it.
S: My name is N.K.. When do chimpanzees use tools?
G: They use them to get insects from little holes in trees and the ground. We talked about that. We use them to get water from trees and satisfy their curiosity. It was interesting that chimps in different parts of Africa use different objects for different reasons. So, you can imagine a chimpanzee way back inventing something new, and that's good because others learn by watching and then that particular behavior becomes a part of their culture.
How do chimpanzees communicate?
S: Do chimpanzees use language or their voices to communicate with one another?
G: Well, I always hear different sounds as I did when I began my research. They also have different poses and gestures. For instance, if I make a sound and a gesture like this, can you understand what it means?
A, a, a.... What does this mean?
S: Go away.
G: Yes, that's right. When a little infant has lost its mother or it's sad, it makes this sound: hoh, hoh, hoh..., ah, ah, ah,..., hoh, hoh.... It goes on for a long time.
And, they have many more sounds. But, we are the only creatures in the world who have evolved sophisticated spoken language.
S: Do chimpanzees quarrel, argue, or fight?
G: Oh, yes, all the time. There's a lot of jealousy. A mother will often come and tap the heads of two young ones and say, "Shut up!" Also, if a top-ranking male is nearby when a quarrel breaks out, he will take charge and try to stop it.
Questions to Dr.Goodall
S: What do you find the most interesting in your research on chimpanzees?
G: It's very hard to choose what is the most interesting. But, for me, personally, it's been watching the development of infants and seeing the different ways that mothers bring them up and how it affects them, how they behave when they grow up. In the chimp world, there are good mothers and bad mothers just like among humans.
S: How are Flo's children, other than Fifi?
G: They have all gone. Fleven got polio. Fican became the top male, and died about ten years ago. As you know, Fred died of grief, and the last baby died because Flo was very, very sick and could not look after her.
S: You named each and every chimpanzee. How can you tell which is which?
G: Once you get used to them, their faces are all different. But, it takes a couple of months to learn that.
The dangers chimpanzees face today
S: How many chimpanzees live in Africa?
G: Well, first of all, let me say that when I began research in 1960, we think there were somewhere between one and two million chimps in Africa. Today, there are maybe 120,000 at most. And many of those 120,000 are spread across 21 countries so many groups like Gombe are isolated in small patches of forests. So, let me ask you a question now. Why do you think they are disappearing? Can you tell me the reason?
S: They are disappearing because of environmental pollution.
G: It's not very polluted. There aren't so many industries. Do you mean pollution in that sense?
S: Yes.
G: Let's go to the next person. Who else had an idea?
S: I think it is because the people cultivated the land, decreased the forests where chimpanzees could live.
G: That's right. That is precisely one of the reasons. But there are other reasons as well. Can anyone think of a different reason?
S: Some people hunt them to eat or to sell their fur.
G: That's a very important reason. For hundreds of years, hunters have been killing and eating different animals.
But today, the problem is that big logging companies have made roads into the forest and these roads have had a terrible impact on the forests.
First, people come and start living along the roads, and cut down the forests to make space for themselves to live. The chimps are sensitive so they catch all kinds of infectious diseases. They don't have immunity, and so they die from measles, polio and other diseases. Then, people put out little wire snares to catch antelopes to eat. The chimps get their hands and feet caught in the snares. People used to use snares made of vines so if the chimps got caught, they could get out of the vines. But, now that snares are made of wire, the chimps aren't able to remove their hands or feet. Either their hands or feet are cut off by the snares or the wound gets so badly infected that they die.
Hunting is now commercial. Hunters come from towns with very efficient hunting equipment. They go out along logging trails and tracks and shoot everything they can see: chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, and everything, even little birds and bugs. They capture their game, put it on a truck and go into town. There are still a few animal traders who send hunters out to kill the mother and capture the baby. So, this is the biggest battle we have to fight if we want to save the chimps.
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