JGI Remembers Dr. Toshisada Nishida


The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) is mourning the passing of Dr. Toshisada Nishida. Dr. Nishida, a leader in Japanese primatology, began studying the behavior of the wild chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains in Tanzania in 1965, just five years after Dr. Goodall embarked upon her pioneering field study at what is today Gombe National Park. In 1985, Dr. Nishida led the effort to establish the Mahale Mountains as a Tanzanian national park. He eventually went on to found the Mahale Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting conservation, research and public education activities related to wildlife of the Mahale Mountains and western Tanzania. In addition to his field research and conservation work, Dr. Nishida inspired a generation of primatologists while serving as a professor at Kyoto University in Japan.

Dr. Goodall wrote a tribute in honor of Dr. Nishida, which we have reprinted below.

June 9, 2011

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Toshisada Nishida. I have known Toshi for more than 40 years and his name will always be associated for me with the chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. His careful research has provided us with a rich picture of the way of life and personalities of these chimpanzees.

Toshi was tireless in the field, logging hundreds of hours of direct observation and building up a dynamic team of researchers so that the work could be maintained throughout the year on an ongoing basis. These researchers studied different aspects of chimpanzee social life and ecology. All of this information has been shared not only in Japanese, with Japanese scientists, but also has been translated into English and made available to primatologists around the world. Toshi also initiated Pan Africa News, a forum that encouraged chimpanzee researchers to contribute short articles about their scientific and conservation work. The forum has brought together information from many different places and disciplines.

The death of Dr. Toshisada Nishida marks a milestone in the long history of Japanese primatology. He made a huge contribution to our understanding of chimpanzees during his lifetime and he inspired many young people to follow in his footsteps, not only in Mahale, but in other parts of Africa. But it is not only Toshi the scientist who will be missed. I shall also miss Toshi as a friend. I shall miss all the marvelous gatherings and small dinners he organized where people could relax and share chimp stories in an informal setting. Indeed, I find it difficult to imagine Japan without him. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and to all his many friends.

Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE
Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute &
UN Messenger of Peace



Photo: The Leakey Foundation


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