Famous scientist Jane Goodall warns against charitable Christmas gifts

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Pioneering scientist and conservationist Jane Goodall has joined a number of others in warning against gifting animals like goats or cows this holiday season to people in developing countries.

The popularity of charitable donations has grown in recent years, and some organizations allow donors to donate livestock to communities in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. An organization, International Heiferbased in Arkansas, encourages the donation of live animals like goats, pigs, sheep, alpacas and heifers, or young cows.

Heifer International maintains that animal gifts are a sustainable way to feed hungry families.

“Giving an animal gift during the holidays is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more,” reads part of its website.


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But Goodall says these donations can do more harm than good as an influx of live animals can put pressure on already stretched water supplies in many developing countries.

“As Christmas approaches, many people feel generous and want to help those less fortunate than themselves. A number of organizations have launched campaigns, suggesting that one way to help those suffering from poverty and hunger is to offer them an animal, such as a heifer,” she says in a YouTube video posted this week.

“As a result, farm animals are purchased in large numbers by generous donors. Unfortunately, this can lead to unintended consequences. Animals need to be fed and they need lots of water, and in so many places water is becoming increasingly scarce due to climate change,” she says, adding that “veterinary care is often limited or totally non-existent”.

As an alternative, Goodall in the video recommends donors invest in community seed centers, water irrigation systems and soil regeneration.

“It will be so much better to help by supporting plant projects and sustainable irrigation methods, regenerative agriculture to improve the soil. Well, that means charities need to come up with plans to create a gift package that will appeal to the generosity of those who want to help those less fortunate than themselves,” she says.


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