Read the text carefully and answer the questions that follow it. Use your own words throughout as far as possible.

For 25 years now, Jane Goodall has been studying chimpanzees in the wild1, at Gombe in Tanzania. After ten years she wrote her best-selling book, In The Shadow Of Man, chronicling her research until then. But if she had stopped there she would have left the world with a misleadingly benign view of chimpanzees.

For it was always thought that one of the most important divisions between the human species and all others was our viciousness4, our unique and universal habit of making war upon one another, a savagery unknown in the animal kingdom. The only species with a moral sense was also the only species that deliberately destroyed others of its own kind.

But starting in the early seventies, Jane Goodall and her researchers were horrified to observe a prolonged, deliberate and planned warfare5 by one group of chimpanzees upon another group which had broken away some years previously. It fundamentally altered her perception of chimp society as ordered and peaceable. It also brought them, in her eyes, yet closer to homo sapiens.

Her most startling discovery in her early years was that chimps use tools. Until then, palaeontologists made sharp distinctions between tool users and non-tool users to differentiate between men and monkey. She documented and photographed chimps taking long sticks6, poking them into termite holes, and extracting the termites on the sticks in order to eat them.

At the same time she and other researchers discovered that chimps are the only animals, apart from humans, to be self-aware. At its most primitive level this can be demonstrated by sticking something on a chimp’s forehead and showing him a mirror. The chimp will immediately recognise himself and pull the object off his forehead. Other animals will paw at the mirror and fail to recognise themselves, let alone rearrange themselves according to the image in the mirror. They also have a structured language with abstract concepts.

But her clinical and dispassionate description of the war that obliterated a whole chimp community may change our perceptions again of the closeness of the relationship between them and us.

There was, it appeared, no particularly pressing reason for the larger northern group to set about annihilating10 the southern group. They turned against the other group because in the years since the two groups parted, they had become aliens, and, like humans, chimpanzee groups are hostile to those outside the immediate group. She observed too that many of them, especially the younger males, took deliberate pleasure in seeking out danger, by ranging close to the territory occupied by other groups. One or two especially aggressive animals13 were first to head in the direction of alien chimp calls, and last to linger near a potential fight. Despite the scientific language, the characters of some of these aimlessly belligerent14 young males stand out like street-fighting gangleaders14.

(adapted from Polly Toynbee’s ‘Jungle Warfare’)

Questions

1 Give another expression for ‘in the wild’.

2 How long ago did Goodall write her book?

3 Explain why it is fortunate she carried on with her research.

4 What does the writer mean by ‘viciousness’?

5 How did the ‘warfare’ change Goodall’s opinion of chimpanzees?

6 What is the purpose of the reference to ‘long sticks’?

7 What differentiates chimps from other animals?

8 Explain the experiment designed to demonstrate this.

9 In what way is our view of chimps likely to be altered as a result of Goodall’s research?

10 Explain the expression ‘set about annihilating’.

11 Why did the groups fight?

12 What did some chimps enjoy doing?

13 Explain what the ‘especially aggressive animals’ did.

14 What is meant by ‘aimlessly belligerent’, and why does the writer refer to ‘street-fighting gangleaders’?

15 In a paragraph of 60–80 words, summarise the similarities between chimp and human behaviour.

Sample Answers

Premium Content

Sign in to access this content.