Evil Geeks Women’s History Month Warriors: Louis Leakey’s Women

Today I travel away from the realm of science fiction and fantasy and bring you some real life women warriors. Women at the top of their field that have changed the world. Today is also a three for one, as I am bringing you the three women chosen by Louis Leakey to study the great apes, also known as the “Trimates”. They are none other than Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas.

Jane Goodall at Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. Photo: Hugo Van Lawick.

Most of you have probably heard of Jane Goodall, but to give you the background on these three remarkable women they were chosen by the famous anthropologist Louis Leakey to study the three main species of great apes: chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. In the 1960’s Leakey was able to raise enough finances to fund trips of all three women to different parts of the world where they would study these animals and learn as much about their culture as they could. What they observed in the field was ground breaking.

Jane with Uruhara pant-hooting, 1996.

Remember when we learned about great apes being the only tool making species aside from us? Well that has since been proven wrong and species across the whole animal kingdom have since been found to use tools, even dogs, birds and some insects use tools. But Jane Goodall was the first one to make the observation of chimpanzees using straws as tools to retrieve ants from holes in trees. Thanks to some more funds from the National Geographic Society, Jane Goodall brought these chimpanzees in to the homes and hearts of many across the world.


Dian Fossey was similarly dedicated to her work with the gorillas, though the black market trade of these animals was much more of a battle for her, and poachers eventually murdered her. Gorillas in the Mist is the movie account of her life with the gorillas, and to this day it is probably the most consistent movie that I know will make me cry if I need a good tearjerker. Her relationship with these beasts was truly stunning and heroic.


The last of the three, Birute, is one that is not as familiar to most people, but she is still living in the jungles of Borneo with her orangutans and has made tremendous strides with understanding this more reclusive great ape. She even has established a small community for orphaned orangutans that lost their mother due to deforestation that lives alongside people as if it could be no other way.

I want to personally thank these women for their compassion, patience, and dedication to the animals they love. They were and are true leaders in the field of conservation efforts for these species, and they lived alongside these animals in the wild, giving up many first world privileges, to help make these animals seem more tangible for those of us in the first world. I don’t think I could admire anyone more.

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Posted on March 22, 2014, in Geekology, Women's History Month Warriors and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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