Drs. Jane Goodall and Toshisada Nishida win 2008 Leakey Prize!

The Leakey Foundation will award 2008 L.S.B. Leakey Foundation Prize for Multidisciplinary Research on Ape and Human Evolution to two distinguished chimpanzee research pioneers, Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Toshisada Nishida ($25,000 each) during the events from October 30 to November 1, 2008 at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco USA, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the world’s most successful private funder of human origins science. On October 31, public lectures will be given by Drs. Goodall and Nishida.

On November 1, 2008, Scientific Symposium and Public Forum for Primatology will take place featuring a panel of six world renowned primatologists led by the two Leakey Prize laureates. The topic will be “What does it mean to be a primate: a human discussion.” That evening, Leakey Prize Gala and Award Ceremony will be held honoring Drs. Goodall and Nishida.

This prize is awarded to prominent anthropologists for their contributions to multidisciplinary studies on human origins. The first winner was Dr. Philip Tobias in 1991 the second was Dr. Desmond Clarke in 1996, and the third was Dr. Frances Clarke-Howell in 1998.

Dr. Jane Goodall, guided by her mentor, the late Dr. Louis Leakey, initiated the longest field study of wild chimpanzees at Gombe on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, East Africa in 1960. In her first year at Gombe, she observed some epoch-making facts that surprised anthropologists of the time. She found that chimpanzees strip leaves off twigs to make tools for fishing termites from termite mounds. On hearing the news, Dr. Leakey left a well-known comment, “Now we must redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as humans.” She also observed chimps hunting and eating medium-sized mammals for the first time, proving that humans are not the only meat-eating apes. Dr. Goodall has been the most famous, legendary zoologist and her comprehensive book “The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior” (1986) has been the chimpanzee researcher’s bible for more than 20 years.

Dr. Toshisada Nishida, when he was a graduate student, joined the Kyoto University’s Ape Expedition to Africa organized by Drs. Kinji Imanishi and Junichiro Itani. In 1965, he succeeded in establishing the second longest running wild chimpanzee research site at the Mahale Mountains on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, about 100km south of Gombe. Since then, in collaboration with many researchers such as the late Drs. Kenji Kawanaka and Shigeo Uehara, Dr. Nishida has persistently explored all aspects of our closest kin in their natural habitats. Initial important discoveries included the finding of definite social structure he called ‘unit group’ (or community) and female transfer system between chimpanzee unit groups, a sharp contrast to many female-bonded primate societies. He has also revealed the hostile intergroup relationships, male alliance strategies, and cultural behaviors of chimpanzees.

Dr. Toshisada Nishida

Dr. Toshisada Nishida wins 2008 IPS Lifetime Achievement Award!

Dr. Toshisada Nishida will also be honored with 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Primatological Society at the IPS XXII Congress Edinburgh, Scotland, 3rd to 8th August 2008.

This award was established in 2004 and goes every two years to a member of IPS with outstanding career contributions to primatology. Dr. Nishida is the third winner of the award, the first being Dr. Hilary Box and the second, Dr. Thomas Struhsaker. On August 7, Dr. Nishida will give plenary lecture, “Forty Years of Chimpanzee Research at Mahale: Traditions, Changes, and Future” at the request of the executive committee for IPS 2008.

In addition to his remarkable scientific accomplishments, IPS noted Dr. Nishida’s contributions to the scientific community. He has trained a generation of students at University of Tokyo and later at Kyoto University. Currently he is Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University and the Executive Director of Japan Monkey Centre. He also served as President of IPS (1996-2000), President of Primate Society of Japan (2001-2004). He is Editor-in-Chief of the oldest journal of primatology, Primates, and has served on the Editorial Boards of the International Journal of Primatology and African Primates, and the Chief Editor of Pan Africa News.

Dr. Nishida is also known for his long-standing role in wildlife conservation. He and the late Dr. Itani embarked on a plan to establish Mahale area as a Tanzanian National Park and it was realized in 1985. In 1994, he set up a Tanzanian non-governmental organization, the Mahale Wildlife Conservation Society together with Professor Hosea Kayumbo, University of Dar es Salaam, in order to conserve the chimpanzees and other wildlife at Mahale. He has been a member of the IPS Conservation Committee (1988-1992) and the African Section of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group (1982-present). He has taken a leading role in great apes conservation as a Patron of the UNEP’s Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) and has established GRASP-Japan.

PAN Editors

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