Big 5s

Dr Jane Goodall

Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute / UN Messenger of Peace

“My favourite animal is the chimpanzee. Not just because I know them so well, but because good photographs capture so much of their nature and their behaviour.

The close bonds between individuals, especially family members, is shown so clearly in photos of social grooming. And I enjoy the sheer exuberance of infants as they play – alone or with each other, joyous swinging from a branch, chasing each other around a tree trunk. I love to see the concentration shown in the face and posture of a chimpanzee using a rock to crack open hard shelled nuts, or fishing for army ants, or the intense interest in the behaviour of others shown by youngsters, which is how they learn.

Their faces are so expressive – just seeing the wide play face of a youngster being tickled makes me smile. There’s the anger expressed with lips bunched in a ferocious scowl, the fear shown in the screaming face of an individual who’s been attacked, and the utterly tragic face of a whimpering infant, lips pouted, eyes large.

Photo by Bill Wallauer

Good photos illustrate just how similar the body language of chimpanzees and humans is: the upright swagger of a male challenging a rival, hair bristling, just like some human politicians; an arm raised in threat; the embrace of greeting into each other’s necks; the kiss; the holding of hands; the mother cradling her infant and fondling one tiny hand.

On and on it goes. We see the origin of so many of our own behaviours, inherited from a common ancestor millions of years ago.

I’ll also choose the elephant. The elephant is so majestic, especially the mighty tusks of one of the few remaining large ‘tuskers’. So many have been killed for those tusks, not only by poachers but also by trophy hunters. I love photos where an older elephant rests his trunk on one tusk, or individuals with trunks entwined, young ones playing or wallowing , squirting each other with water.

I also love to see them walking in a long line with each holding the tail of the individual in front, and the wise matriarch leading. It’s also great to see the tossing of the head sideways, ears outstretched, as a young male mock-charges. What a dynamic contrast all these are to the terrible photos of a dead body, trunk cut off and thrown aside, tusks dug out.

Photo by Graeme Green

The giraffe is also so spectacular, so graceful, yet so absolutely unlikely, with the ridiculous long neck and long legs. I love to see them reaching up to browse vegetation high in an acacia tree with that long black tongue, or looking down at you with those large dark eyes fringed with eyelashes that any woman would envy. It’s hard to beat the sight of a mother licking her newborn, or a group moving across the plains with that long stride. They’re so amazingly graceful, such a symbol of the African plains.

I’ll also include the polar bear, whether they’re walking across the sea ice, or a mother lying, relaxed, with her cubs playing around her. The iconic photos of polar bears standing on small pieces of sea ice are living symbols of climate change. Photos of polar bears serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to believe in the climate crisis.

Finally, I’ll choose capuchin monkeys, with their often grumpy-looking ‘old man’ faces capped with a dark crew cut. Looking into those eyes, close-up, you see the intelligence there. I love to see tool-using monkeys working away to crack nuts with rocks and all the play among youngsters, the squabbling among those feeding, swinging, at home in their tree-top world.”

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Photo by Graeme Green

My Big 5

    Chimpanzee
    Elephant
    Polar Bear
    Giraffe
    Capuchin Monkey

Dr Jane Goodall

Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute / UN Messenger of Peace

“My favourite animal is the chimpanzee. Not just because I know them so well, but because good photographs capture so much of their nature and their behaviour.

The close bonds between individuals, especially family members, is shown so clearly in photos of social grooming. And I enjoy the sheer exuberance of infants as they play – alone or with each other, joyous swinging from a branch, chasing each other around a tree trunk. I love to see the concentration shown in the face and posture of a chimpanzee using a rock to crack open hard shelled nuts, or fishing for army ants, or the intense interest in the behaviour of others shown by youngsters, which is how they learn.

Their faces are so expressive – just seeing the wide play face of a youngster being tickled makes me smile. There’s the anger expressed with lips bunched in a ferocious scowl, the fear shown in the screaming face of an individual who’s been attacked, and the utterly tragic face of a whimpering infant, lips pouted, eyes large.

Photo by Bill Wallauer

Good photos illustrate just how similar the body language of chimpanzees and humans is: the upright swagger of a male challenging a rival, hair bristling, just like some human politicians; an arm raised in threat; the embrace of greeting into each other’s necks; the kiss; the holding of hands; the mother cradling her infant and fondling one tiny hand.

On and on it goes. We see the origin of so many of our own behaviours, inherited from a common ancestor millions of years ago.

I’ll also choose the elephant. The elephant is so majestic, especially the mighty tusks of one of the few remaining large ‘tuskers’. So many have been killed for those tusks, not only by poachers but also by trophy hunters. I love photos where an older elephant rests his trunk on one tusk, or individuals with trunks entwined, young ones playing or wallowing , squirting each other with water.

I also love to see them walking in a long line with each holding the tail of the individual in front, and the wise matriarch leading. It’s also great to see the tossing of the head sideways, ears outstretched, as a young male mock-charges. What a dynamic contrast all these are to the terrible photos of a dead body, trunk cut off and thrown aside, tusks dug out.

Photo by Graeme Green

The giraffe is also so spectacular, so graceful, yet so absolutely unlikely, with the ridiculous long neck and long legs. I love to see them reaching up to browse vegetation high in an acacia tree with that long black tongue, or looking down at you with those large dark eyes fringed with eyelashes that any woman would envy. It’s hard to beat the sight of a mother licking her newborn, or a group moving across the plains with that long stride. They’re so amazingly graceful, such a symbol of the African plains.

I’ll also include the polar bear, whether they’re walking across the sea ice, or a mother lying, relaxed, with her cubs playing around her. The iconic photos of polar bears standing on small pieces of sea ice are living symbols of climate change. Photos of polar bears serve as a wake-up call to those who refuse to believe in the climate crisis.

Finally, I’ll choose capuchin monkeys, with their often grumpy-looking ‘old man’ faces capped with a dark crew cut. Looking into those eyes, close-up, you see the intelligence there. I love to see tool-using monkeys working away to crack nuts with rocks and all the play among youngsters, the squabbling among those feeding, swinging, at home in their tree-top world.”

Photo by Graeme Green

My Big 5

    Chimpanzee
    Elephant
    Polar Bear
    Giraffe
    Capuchin Monkey

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