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Jane Goodall says simple everyday actions, such as switching off lights, closing water taps, cycling and cycling instead of driving, make a big difference to the health of our planet. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: She greeted her audience in chimpanzee languages, and immediately captured their attention with a speech inspiring people to make a difference to all living things.

"If you really want something, work hard, take risks, grab opportunities, and never give up ... then there is definitely a way to success," Jane Goodall told her audience at Zayed University.

Best known for her work with chimpanzees, the conservationist and primatologist, who is also the founder of an institute bearing her name, and her group work with people from all corners of the planet to raise awareness of the need for conservation, community development, and to take action on behalf of all people, animals and the environment.

Encouragement

"Curiosity, asking questions to which I got no answers, looking myself for answers, making mistakes and learning, marked my path as scientist at the age of four and a half years," said Goodall.

Her mother respected her passion for animals and encouraged her.

Believing in her daughter' abilities, the mother encouraged Goodall to travel to Africa when no one else approved it.

Her work with chimpanzees began 50 years ago when she first visited Gombe National Park at Lake Tanganyika (today's Tanzania), to research the behaviour of chimpanzees and shed light on our evolutionary past.

She patiently lived alongside these wild animals until she ultimately won their trust.

"I never felt lonely or regretted these years among chimpanzees," she told Gulf News.

She made a wealth of scientific discoveries, and her writings enlightened the world on the characteristics of chimpanzees — so much similar to human behaviours such as close family bonds, struggle for dominance, human-like communications and much more.

Today, her work revolves around inspiring action on behalf of endangered species, and encouraging people to do their part to make the world a better place for people, animals and the environment we all share.

Threats to the planet

While her speech, "Making a Difference", was mainly a view into the world of chimpanzees, she highlighted current threats facing the planet and encouraged everyone in the audience to do their part to make a positive difference each and every day.

"We are the most intelligent creatures on earth. How can we be so intelligent and be destructive to our planet? We are poisoning the air with fumes, and the land with chemicals and pesticides that in turn go in streams and pollute water. If we do not protect biodiversity, then we will destroy the bounty that we have been given and have enjoyed for millennia. After all we only have one planet earth," Goodall said.

Keep it simple

"Simple everyday actions will contribute to making a difference — turning lights off, turning water taps off, recycling, and cycling instead of driving," she said.

The speech also provided an insight into the person behind the iconic UN Messenger of Peace, her love to animals and humanity.

Goodall launched Roots and Shoots that started with 12 students in Tanzania to reach groups in 130 countries of youngsters enthusiastic to improve their local environments for peaceful co-existence and harmony between people and animals.

"Each one of us matters, and each one has a role to play," she said.

Initiative takes root in the UAE

Roots and Shoots — UAE was founded by three women in the community: Natasha Krell, American Community School student, Beth Margolis Rupp, educator, and Bethany Kolody, student at NYU Abu Dhabi.

After watching Jane's Journey at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (which has now been nominated for Oscar) they took a bold move and collected email addresses of those who were interested in starting Roots and Shoots in Abu Dhabi.

People wanting to join Roots and Shoots in the UAE can contact Natasha Krell at janehelpers.ad@gmail.com