Scientist Dr Jane Goodall urges greater respect for animals during NZ visit

One of the world's greatest scientific minds, Dr Jane Goodall, is in New Zealand to discuss the state of the environment and one of her pearls of wisdom is: stop using the word pest.

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Dr Goodall rose to fame in the 60s with her groundbreaking study of chimpanzees. Source: 1 NEWS

Dr Goodall rose to fame in the 1960s with her ground-breaking discovery that chimpanzees use tools, turning on its head the belief man was the only tool user.

She also broke with the scientific norm by naming, instead of numbering, the chimps and observing their distinct moods and personalities.

She said we have got "tied up in a materialistic world" and no longer have a spiritual connection with the natural world.

She urges greater respect for animals, starting with what we call them.

"I abhor the use of the word pest."

The Government has a lofty goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050.

Dr Goodall acknowledges the damage rats, stoats and possums do to New Zealand's flora and fauna but said they need to be treated humanely.

"They have personalities, just like our own dogs and cats. They have feelings they can feel fear and pain."

Dr Goodall travels 300 days of the year to advocate for environmental protection and sustainability,

She's been observing the natural world since a child. The changes to it in her lifetime are "so many I can hardly list them,"

By 1980 Gombe National Park, where she had studied chimpanzees, had become "an island of forest surrounded by completely bare hills."

She said population growth is the main problem underpinning climate change. And her one piece of advice for people wanting to reduce the effects is to eat less meat. On top of the fossil fuels used to rear animals, they produce methane "a very virulent greenhouse gas."

On March 15, students across 100 countries marched in the streets to call for action on climate change.

Dr Goodall says while that’s “great” she would like to see it followed by real action.

"You can’t point to the government and say you're destroying our future because they can say well what are you doing about it."

She suggests people start thinking about the consequences of the little choices they make. "What do you buy? Where did it come from? Did it harm the environment?"

Dr Goodall is now 85 years old. She said it won't be possible to beat climate change in her lifetime.
But she hopes to make a difference through her youth organisation Roots and Shoots, which is in 140 countries.

"I shall carry on and the most important thing is working with the youth."