Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?

Planet Main
In This Section
Lucky Seven -- One-on-One with Six Summit Speakers and One Delegate
The Ultimate Bad Hair Day
Tilting At Windmills
Meet the New Sierra Club President
Patch Me If You Can
How Protecting Chimps and Improving Family Planning Go Hand in Hand
From the Editor: The Paperless Planet
Who We Are
Club Beat
PDF of this Issue
Search for an Article
Free Subscription
Back Issues

The Planet

How Protecting Chimps and Family Planning Go Hand in Hand

by Lauren Kelnhofer

Give a hoot: Dr. Jane Goodall pant-hoots with an orphan chimp at the JGI Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. (Note: This is a sanctuary chimp. Goodall does not handle wild chimps.) Photo by Michael Neugebauer

When you hear the name Jane Goodall, you probably think of chimpanzees, not family planning for humans. But there’s more of a connection than at first glance—in some areas where the legendary primatologist works, like Tanzania, human population growth endangers chimp habitat.

Dr. Goodall delivered the keynote address in April for the Sierra Club’s annual Population Activist Training in Washington, D.C., explaining how her institute’s TACARE program in Tanzania works with local communities to improve their lives, and in doing so, protects the primates and their habitat. TACARE helps plant trees, prevent soil erosion, and provide family planning, education, and economic opportunities for women.

Goodall, who preceded her remarks with the customary hooting chimpanzee greeting she learned from her years of field work in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park, spoke after 150 population activists had fanned out over the capitol for three days lobbying their representatives and senators to boost funding for international family planning programs and eliminate policies restricting access to family planning services. The weekend workshop was hosted by the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program, the National Wildlife Federation, and Population Connection.

Chimps are the closest species to humans, says Goodall. For example, humans can get blood transfusions from chimps, but chimps can’t get them from gorillas. And like humans, chimps use verbal and nonverbal communication, and teach their offspring behaviors that are passed down through through the generations. Chimps also use tools, which has forced scientists to redefine what it means to be human.

“Dr. Goodall and the Sierra Club agree that providing communities with information and access to opportunities and healthcare services invests not only in the people and the environment, but also in the future of the chimpanzees,” says Sarah Fairchild, of the Club’s Global Population and Environment Program.

Take Action: Urge your senators and representatives to support $800 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s family planning programs. Go to For more information about the Sierra Club’s Global Population and Environment Program, go to: For more on Dr. Goodall, see

Up to Top