Happy Earth Day! Google has partnered with Dr. Jane Goodall–the famed primatologist–to showcase her and her team’s latest efforts to save the chimpanzee population in western Tanzania.
Using Google Earth’s newest in-browser interface, Google is able to present an interactive multimedia experience to allow the user to explore areas throughout the world. In this presentation, you are given a look at Jane Goodall’s early life, how she got into the field of primatology, and her and her foundation’s efforts to save the habitat of the remaining populations of chimps in Tanzania.
In Gombe National Park, bordering the coast of Lake Tanganyika, the habitat of chimpanzees is being threatened by the encroachment of human settlements. These settler’s attempts to burn the trees and farm the surrounding land have been putting the chimpanzees in an ever more precarious existence over the past few decades. Add to this the trade in animal smuggling (baby chimpanzees are a prized pet for some wealthy patrons), and hunting (they are sometimes eaten as “bushmeat” by subsistence farmers and their families), and you begin to see why the chimps need our help.
From an estimated population of over one million individuals one hundred years ago, now there are only around 300,000 left (from western Africa to the shores of Lake Tanganyika). Jane and her team are using education, job opportunities, and improved research and tracking methods in order to show the communities in the area how important chimpanzees are to their country and the world in general.
With support from the Jane Goodall Institute, the forest monitors use Android smartphones and tablets running the Open Data Kit (ODK) application to record their observations in the areas they patrol. They make note of illegal human activities, as well as the presence of chimpanzees and other wildlife. The forest monitors’ data are uploaded into the Google cloud where the information is stored, visualized and exported to a Forest Monitoring Dashboard to be shared with the local stakeholders and decision makers.
Find out more about what the Jane Goodall Research Institute is doing on the ground by visiting Google Earth, here (currently works only in the Google Chrome browser).
Interested in checking out the Gombe chimps on your next visit to Tanzania? We’d be delighted to take you! Just send us a message and we’ll put together the perfect itinerary to add to your next safari.