BARCELONA – British primatologist Jane Goodall warned on Thursday the planet was in the midst of the sixth great extinction, for which humans were entirely responsible through the hunting and trafficking of wildlife, polluting of the oceans and deforestation.
Goodall was launching the Forever Wild campaign at Barcelona’s CosmoCaixa, a natural history museum, with the aim of shedding light on how human activities, like the illegal poaching of animals, were aiding and accelerating the extinction process of many species that are at risk.
She started the press conference in Barcelona as she often does with a pant-hoot, a loud call used by chimpanzees to communicate over long distances in the forest, to transport the press, she said, to the tropical rainforest where she spent so many years.
“It’s becoming clear that we are in the middle of the sixth great extinction caused by us, caused by our activities, caused by our destruction of the forest, our pollution of the oceans, and in addition the hunting and killing of wildlife.”
Goodall went on to explain how at one time it seemed the poaching of wildlife and baby animals had died off, but alarming evidence suggested illegal wildlife trade was again on the rise.
The primatologist explained that, as such, a key element of the Forever Wild campaign was to educate communities across the planet by spreading the message “that when we protect the environment we are also protecting the future of our children.”
Ill-informed stereotypes often depict environmental activists as tree-huggers who just want to save cuddly, furry animals, when in fact conservationists are simply attempting to make a better environment for all living things, Goodall said.
However, it was not all doom and gloom at the launch of Forever Wild, as Goodall celebrated that with a growing global population the number of individuals with a passion to tackle the problems species and the planet faced was also growing.
As Goodall prepared to wrap up her press conference, she reminisced on her early career when she first decided to travel to Africa at a time when “girls didn’t do that,” and how her mother was a driving force who encouraged her to never give up on her dream – a message she shares with people around the world, especially in more impoverished regions.
“I just wish she was around to know how many people have come up or written to say: ‘Jane I want to thank you, because you taught me that I can do it to’,” Goodall added.