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Jane Goodall Institute Nepal: Conserving for the future

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

Jane Goodall Institute Nepal: Conserving for the future

Jane Goodall Institute in Nepal has been an entity advocating for environmental conservation  through community engagement for the past decade. Working with the local communities and  leaning more into the local practices of conservation and interaction of the communities directly  affected has been how the organization has been active. Its conservation practices are influenced  heavily by the understanding that each type of ecosystem needs its own kind of conservation  efforts and that the communities in and around have practiced methods of conservation that  suit the local environment the best since the conception of civilization. 

The institute got its entry to Nepal via another community engagement program, Roots &  Shoots, a prominent program in the global Jane Goodall Foundation. Dr Jane Goodall is a  prominent figure in the field of conservation. When Jane Goodall entered the forest of Gombe,  the world knew very little about chimpanzees, and even less about their unique genetic kinship  to humans. She took an unorthodox approach in her field research, immersing herself in their  habitat and their lives to experience their complex society as a neighbor rather than a distant  observer and coming to understand them not only as a species, but also as individuals with  emotions and long-term bonds. Dr. Jane Goodall’s discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make  and use tools is considered one of the greatest achievements of twentieth-century scholarship.  Her field research at Gombe transformed our understanding of chimpanzees and redefined the  relationship between humans and animals in ways that continue to emanate around the world. 

Living her legacy, she started the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal and since then an array of projects and activities have been encompassed within the structure. The institute here in Nepal  has been slowly working with the local communities of Bardiya, Koshi Tappu and more to  restore habitats of River Dolphins, Asiatic elephants and more. Currently the institute is working  with Women in Nature Network to organize a conference that celebrates the women working in  nature-environment conservation. This is a network of women who are active in nature  conservation, whether it be in the field working hands on, in research, or at policy level. JGIN  combines principles of animal welfare, community welfare and engagement tools and  compassionate conservation techniques to achieve its goal of conserving what is there and  restoring what was.  

With main work being advocating and influence in policies that affect habitat restoration and  conservation, JGIN, has created alliances with the on-ground conservationists, organizations working in similar capacities and communities that have seen and experienced loss of their  natural environment overtime. This alliance has helped not only create a communal feeling in  conservation in the said communities but also challenged the idea of conservation in a broader  sense. 

The case against mass massacre of cattle in Gadhimai, was won through the same  understanding and the program that brought the institute in the country, Roots & Shoots, also  pushes for a similar relationship with nature and natural environment in young students. The  brutality and challenge of the said case brought a lot of our misunderstandings about  environmental conservation, our relationships with the same to the forefront, and  

Roots & shoots is a youth led community engagement education program. This program is  designed to foster a relationship between young persons of our communities and their  immediate environment. Working with schools and creating environment clubs, designing  activities for the same is how R & S works. As of now the program is working with students to  foster emotional connection with their immediate natural and man-made environments, develop  their sense of responsibility towards maintaining cleaner and healthier balance in the local  ecosystems and learn more through their own active participation.  

One of the programs that R & S is organizing and leans heavily into conservation is a Children’s  Theater, or Children’s conservation theater. JGIN, along with PAN Nepal have recognized eight  endangered species of fauna in Nepal as keystone species and named them Anautho Aath.  This includes, leopards, brown bear, vultures, bumblebee, spiny babbler, river dolphin, asiatic  elephant and pangolin. These animals and their habitats are essential in maintaining a healthy  balance in their local and connecting ecosystems. Recognizing the need for educated  awareness of the plight these animals are in due to our own actions, Roots & Shoots has moved  forward with the theater program that brings together research on the animals, their status as an  endangered animal, the butterfly effect of human actions that leads or led to the loss of their  population and habitat, and our own selfish needs as humans to have a healthier environment in  which to live and let live.  

Children’s theater is being designed in collaboration with Earthbeat collective, a theater group  that has traveled all over Nepal to spread awareness and also engage the community in their  own ways in conservation. This year we at JGIN and Roots & Shoots are creating plays on the  

Anautho Aath to highlight the impact of our actions on the ecosystems the animals belong to  and also foster a deeper connection to nature among everyone who is a part of the project and  also those who witness the play as an audience.  

There have been countless challenges and adversities throughout the journey and JGI Nepal has come a long way. However, through such intrinsic experiences, there have been impactful  interventions on the ground where the whole concept of community and conservation go hand in  hand. In coming days, the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal seeks to tread further to create a healthy  and livable world for humans and animals alike creating intergenerational justice.