Business, Politics & Society

The Breakthrough

Dr. Jane Goodall

Lesson time 13:30 min

Dr. Jane explains the challenges she faced during her initial work in Gombe and how she arrived at the one breakthrough that changed everything.

Dr. Jane Goodall
Teaches Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall shares her insights into animal intelligence, conservation, and activism.
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I shall never forget arriving at Gombe and going along the lake in this little boat. It just had a small outboard engine. We had very little money. Everything was on a shoestring. And looking up at the hills and these valleys coming down with thick forests and more open ridges between, and it climbs steeply up to the rift escarpment, and I remember so well looking at this forested area and thinking, how on earth am I going to find the chimpanzees in this place? Because there was no precedent. There was nobody to tell me. Louis Leakey didn't come. I was on my own. It was all up to me. And arriving, setting up the camp, and it was an old fashioned army tent and a secondhand one, which my mother and I had to share-- very different from the camps that people go camping in today. It had just a piece of canvas on the ground as a groundsheet, so if you wanted it to get cooler, you rolled up the side flaps and tied them with tape. And in came the air, but also the snakes and the spiders and the scorpions, which didn't really bother me, but my poor mother-- there she was, and she's always been afraid of spiders, and scorpions can be a bit nasty. Let's admit it. At any rate, that was the camp. And the food was mostly cans that we brought with us from the nearest little town, which is Kigoma. But also, there's a village. It's a very small national park, and the shoreline of Gombe is only about 12 miles. And to the north, there's a small village called Wamgongo. And the British authorities told us, don't go there. It's a very dangerous place. There's a lot of people there who are making trouble. But the person I was introduced to in those very early days, who was asked to go into the hills with me for the first while to show me some of the trails and so forth, and he came from that village. And so he took Mom and I. We were welcomed there, and that's where we bought some fresh things like fresh eggs and some fruit and bananas and things like that. So it was a very simple diet. And in those days, I was still eating fish, and the fish came from the fishermen along the lake shore. I, from the beginning, realized that if I was going to learn about these chimpanzees, I had to spend every daylight hour out there. And in fact, sometimes I would always come down in the first four months to have supper with Mom, but sometimes I'd go up again afterwards with my little flashlight, my little torch. And up on this peak, I'd found-- I took a tin trunk, and in there, there was a kettle hanging from a chain on a tree, box of matches, some instant coffee and so forth so that I could make coffee and so on. And that I did if the chimps were nesting nearby, so I could be close in the morning. And that was every day, so people said, what about the weekend? I said, what weekend? So there were two things that were important. One was to be out there every ...

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There is still a window of time. Nature can win if we give her a chance. In her first ever online class, Dr. Jane Goodall teaches how you can conserve the environment. She also shares her research on the behavioral patterns of chimpanzees and what they taught her about conservation. You'll learn how to act locally and protect the planet.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learned so much more than I expected. I selected this class to learn about the chimps at the feet of a legend. Jane taught so much more--about nature, conservation and communication. There is much to do, but there is hope. I want to do the course all over again. I know I will learn even more.

She is so amazing! I love Jane! Thanks for this beautiful stories! Thank you!

This class was excellent. I have ideas of books to read, programs to research, and how to learn more in general. In learning more I will see opportunities to act.

This course was incredibly inspirational. I will use what I have learned to create positive action. Thank you to Jane!


Diana H.

What a treasure this class is! I love hearing her early education with her mother. It reminded me of Illation Meruliefs lecture on growing up with his Aleute ancestors in Alaska. The curiosity her mother fostered her whole life is beautiful. Especially in a marginalizing era. Many of us waitress our way into affording our higher education! I watched with my mother and we both are absolutely hooked on our inspiration Jane. Thank you.

Michael J.

A lesson in patience - all the great things we can learn and discover if we just take the time to do so.

Anne K.

What a beautiful moment with David Graybeard, such a different world. I am glad it can be shared.

A fellow student

Having grown up on a farm, I find her early experiences a little nieve. A farm child knows the bugs, worms, animals and plants both good and bad.

Georgina M.

Wow! Hearing Jane retell her incredible experience with David Greybeard is extremely inspiring. In a world where humans are so often in conflict with animals this story provides hope that we can live in harmony with other species if we have the patience to undertsand their behaviour and view them as equals and not as inferior. If more people hadthe same appreciation for nature and wildlife as Jane the world would likely be a better and more accepting place.

Julie A.

The approach of using time, intuition and patiently waiting is inspiring. nature without and within takes time. its inspiring me how to lead my life. Thank you Goodall for showing the way.

Paula M.

I so love this course! Jane's new found relationship with David Graybeard reminds me of my stunning experience with five cows in a pasture on the Big Isle in Hawaii in Hawi, the north-western area. On my morning walk after my two hours of meditation I slowed down to gaze at these magnificent animals. They all came over to look at me and in me. We held our gaze with each other for what seemed like a very long time. Simply standing and gazing into one another's eyes. Jane would have enjoyed that, too, wouldn't she?

Sarah C.

If only everyone could have the empathy and gentle understanding that she has...what an experience to touch the hand of a different species and truly connect...

Carol S.

Hello to Dr. Jane's groupies. What an amazing human being she is--so calm and thoughtful, so ready to think about what she sees. Her mother sounds amazingly insightful and supportive. Jane came to her life in Gombe armed with her learning in basic biology, and her own openness and curiosity. She was so prepared for her fortunate encounter with Dr. Lewis Leakey.

A fellow student

I cried through the end of this one. I hope this class includes some tips on how we can aid the conservation effort (other than the usual give money, contact officials, etc.). There is only one Jane, but we all need to be heroes for the planet and its amazing nonhuman animals. Did you know an octopus will hold a human hand in an act of relationship?