Monkey business hard to sustain in slump, Goodall says

Mon Jun 8, 2009 9:51am EDT
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By Candida Ng

SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Chimpanzees, long under threat from humans encroaching on their habitat, are now facing another risk caused by that same member of the Great Ape family: the global economic crisis, says primatologist Jane Goodall.

Funding to the Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit organization that aims to conserve primate habitats and increase awareness of animal welfare activities, has declined by about 10 percent since the financial crisis hit.

"Money that came in last year was less than we had expected," Goodall told Reuters in Singapore while visiting for events related to World Environment Day. "The private donors and some of the foundations pulled back."

The institute, which has an annual budget of $10-11 million which funds its activities in Africa, has had to dig into its endowment fund to keep some of its programs running. Some projects were cut and staff laid off.

Goodall, who rose to fame in the 1960s through her ground-breaking study of chimpanzees in East Africa, said the root cause of most problems was overpopulation and the materialism of most human societies.

"Underlying everything is the sheer number of people on the planet," said 75-year-old Goodall. "We take far, far, far, far more than our fair share of these precious natural resources."

"We have to help people understand that enough is enough. We have so much more than we need, we have a throwaway society."

Such strident demands on the environment have seen previously forested areas being taken over by humans for housing, agriculture and business, leading to a dwindling population of chimpanzees and other animals in the wild.   Continued...

<p>Conservationist and primatologist Jane Goodall poses for photographers in front of the chimpanzee enclosure at Sydney's Taronga Zoo October 11, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>