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The great apes have lived in their forests for hundreds of thousand of years,
never overpopulating, never destroying the forests.
Jane Goodall

It's late afternoon at Gombe Stream, on Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. I am with the chimpanzees of Gombe, the very ones that Jane Goodall lived with and studied for years. I have followed them for several days, fascinated, as she was, by their similarity to us. We are the closest of kin and share more DNA (99.5%) than a zebra does with a horse.

I stroll the beach alone as twilight approaches, in front of Jane's now abandoned cottage, trying very hard to transport my mind back to 1960 when she began her groundbreaking work with the chimps at this very spot. I am humbled by this great lady's awesome spirit as I gaze out over the lake, at the African sunset. As the sky erupts in blazing colors, I hear the distant clatter of an outboard engine, and soon the motorboat putt-putts by, en route to parts unknown for a night of fishing.


This picture captures the mood and majesty of that evening. Goodall, a quiet and passionate loner, would come to be known as National Geographic's "cover girl", the African queen, tolerating her celebrity for the sake of Gombe's chimps. She now sits atop a pyramid representing the world's foremost wildlife conservationists, a lofty perch once held by French oceanographer Jacque Cousteau. With his passing in the late nineties she took up the torch and has carried it with grace, in every step she takes, speaking passionately for her fellow creatures who cannot speak for themselves. To walk in her footsteps in Tanzania was one of the great honors of my life.

© Danny Kimberlin 2015