Jane Goodall vows to die before quitting conservation work

Famed chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall is hopeful her conservation efforts will be carried on by a new generation after she dies.

In an exclusive interview with Newshub, she also called for palm oil products to be labelled, shared her frustration at US President Donald Trump and suggested we charge tourists a levy to support conservation efforts.

Dr Goodall has a number of titles - Dame, Dr, scientist and activist. But she's most affectionately known as the Chimpanzee Lady, and for good reason.  

Her groundbreaking work in the 1960s studying chimpanzees in Tanzania turned science on its head.

Until then, it was thought only humans made tools. Dr Goodall proved otherwise, seeing personality and intelligence in our close relatives.

But chimpanzee numbers have declined rapidly - a sad fate shared by many species.

"We have been stealing the future from our children," Dr Goodall told Newshub.

"We're still stealing it and if we care about them, and most people do, then we have to get together and help to turn things around before it's too late."

You get the sense that at 83, Dr Goodall is losing her patience, frustrated by a lack of action in her lifetime and recent backward steps.

In particular, she's frustrated by US President Donald Trump and his treatment of climate issues.

"I cannot understand somebody who has been elected President of the United States, standing up and saying that he doesn't believe carbon dioxide emissions have led to the warming up of the planet," Dr Goodall said.

"I just don't understand some of these things."

And yet she remains hopeful, travelling 300 days a year to spread her message.

She says her work will only be done when she's dead.

"My work, not the work, my work, will end when I die. But hopefully the legacy will be carried on in the young people."

With thousands of species threatened by extinction here in New Zealand, Dr Goodall says a levy charged to tourists visiting conservation areas would help. 

"I'm all for tourists who go and look at the animals to have to pay something to help save them," she said.

"People pay to go and see a zoo, and the zoo uses a lot of money for the species in its habitat."

Dr Goodall also says rules around palm oil should be addressed, citing the critically endangered orangutan.

"That's a huge problem which New Zealand again can do something about, by insisting on labelling products that have palm oil in."

At 83, most people would likely be expected to be slowing down a bit. But judging by the response in Dunedin last night, Dr Goodall's fans don't want her to stop any time soon.