Hear from Dereck and Beverly Joubert, among other dedicated wildlife experts who are working to protect threatened species and their fragile ecosystems for future generations. Learn about some of the innovative new ways they are helping communities and wildlife coexist more peacefully.
Motherhood always brings monumental responsibilities, but the challenges may be even greater for big cats in the wild as their ranks dwindle under threats to their habitat and lives.
Wildlife advocates take that message to the small screen this weekend to raise awareness of the dangers facing the world’s dwindling population of leopards, cheetahs, and tigers. Filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert feature two such animals in The Unlikely Leopard, the latest effort in National Geographic‘s push to “cause an uproar” over the worsening plight of big cats around the world. It premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday on Nat Geo WILD.
As viewers watch The Unlikely Leopard, which follows the trials of a mother leopard raising her male cub in the Botswana savannah, Beverly Joubert said she and her husband hope people are inspired by the leopards’ individuality and character.
“Once people can get to know a leopard the way we do, the great individual character and personality, they’ll understand why it’s so important to protect these cats in Africa,” she says.
Though conservationists have made global efforts to protect big cats, they still face stacked odds due to threats from habitat destruction and hunting.
Conflicts also arise when communities feel the animals threaten their livestock and their livelihood. On June 21, six lions in Kenya were killed after they strayed less than 10 miles from the border of Nairobi National Park, one of the most stringently protected wildlife reserves on the continent.
According to National Geographic and wild cat conservation organization Panthera:
- Leopard numbers have slimmed from 750,000 to as few as 50,000 over the past 50 years.
- Cheetahs have vanished from more than 75% of their natural habitat in Africa, including six countries they previously occupied.
- The fewer than 3,500 remaining wild tigers are now outnumbered by those living in captivity.
Andrew Wetzler, co-director of land and wildlife at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, said big cats are much more valuable than the price of their pelt or livestock saved by hunting them down. The carnivores maintain a fragile balance in their ecosystems.
“Their presence or absence really affects the entire natural community, from birds to plants and flowers, and even insect life,” Wetzler says.
To help, Dereck Joubert says people can forgo fur clothing, donate to non-profit organizations and spread awareness.
“At this rate, we’re going to see extinction of these fantastic jewels of the forest in the next 10 to 15 years,” says Dereck Joubert. “We’re gathering momentum, but we really do need an army of supporters or we will lose these cats.”
Click on the link below:
By Rebecca Lurye, USA TODAY
Beverly and Dereck Joubert live in the bush, filming and photographing lions and leopards in their natural habitat. With stunning footage (some never before seen), they discuss their personal relationships with these majestic animals - and their quest to save the big cats from human threats.
Visit our TED Profile for more information.
Third Annual BIG CAT WEEK on Nat Geo WILD Begins Sunday Dec. 9th, 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
Nat Geo WILD’s Most – Watched Week Returns with Five Nights of Premieres, Including First–Ever Capture and Release of an Endangered Snow Leopard in Afghanistan
Full schedule of BIG CAT WEEK:channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/big-cat-week/series/big-cat-week/episode-guide/
Dereck and Beverly Joubert’s films to be featured:
- “The Last Lions” on Monday Dec. 10th 8 p.m. ET and
- “The Unlikely Leopard” on Thursday Dec. 13th 8 p.m. ET
“The Last Lions,” produced by award–winning filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert, captures the desperate plight of big cats — especially lions — in Africa. Filmed at Duba Plains, their home base in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, the Jouberts’ film is a call to action to save African lions. Fifty years ago, there were 450,000 lions across Africa and today as few as 20,000 remain in the wild.
The Jouberts followed lioness Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”) for seven years to create their 2011 documentary. Recently interviewed by Lara Logan for CBS “60 Minutes,” the Jouberts led the TV crew on an expedition to find Ma di Tau’s surviving cub. Watch the broadcast, also filmed on location at Duba Plains in Botswana, here:www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50135741n
“The Unlikely Leopard,” the Jouberts’ 2012 documentary, is a fun story about coming of age in the African wild. It is also a part of Nat Geo WILD’s Big Cats Initiative to “Cause an Uproar” to save big cats, which are in greater danger now than ever before. Fifty years ago leopards numbered 700,000. Today there may be as few as 50,000. These top predators are quickly disappearing. The loss of these majestic animals also means that the natural balance of entire environments is destroyed. “The Unlikely Leopard” was filmed near the famous Selinda Reserve in Botswana.
BIG CAT WEEK is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long–term commitment founded by the Jouberts with the National Geographic Society to stop poaching, save habitats and sound the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world.
To address this critical situation, Nat Geo WILD is asking people to “Cause an Uproar” and support BCI. This year’s BIG CAT WEEK will follow a series of fall activities, including the creation of the National Geographic Big Cats Sister School Program, which pairs U.S. schools with schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana under the shared theme of big cat conservation.
Follow Explorers–in–Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert on Twitter @dereckbeverly
The New York Times
“‘The Last Lions’ is a worthy, intensive labor of love that took years to shoot and edit, and it’s also more gripping than a lot of recent Hollywood thrillers.”
Los Angeles Times
“It goes without saying that their [filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert] latest effort, ‘The Last Lions,’ is mightily impressive to look at.”
The Washington Post
“The tale has all the trappings of a good Jack London novel, including fearsome villains, such as a scar–faced buffalo leading a pack of its one–ton brethren, as well as a one–eyed lioness, well–known for killing the cubs of her enemies.”
Beverly Joubert: “Once people can get to know a leopard the way we do, the great individual character and personality, they’ll understand why it’s so important to protect these cats in Africa.”
Our Amazing Planet
“Beautifully shot, impeccably edited and skillfully written, actor Jeremy Irons’ narration — which is delivered with both gravitas and understated British humor — adds a final bit of sparkle to an already arresting film.”
Bill Weir of ABC Nightline visits the Jouberts in Botswana to see what has become of the star feline from “The Unlikely Leopard.”
Could you spend 16 hours a day trapped in a vehicle with your husband? Road trips have left many a relationship in tatters, but for Beverly and Dereck Joubert — the wildlife photographers profiled this week on 60 Minutes — spending long days together in a truck and nights in a tent is just part of the fun.
“We designed our lives so that we could be together,” says Dereck. “We never wanted the life where I would go off to the office and come back late at night, cranky, have a scotch, and spend an hour or two with Beverly, who had a completely different life.”
So, these high school sweethearts moved to Botswana and began making their dramatic wildlife films together. Beverly and Dereck work in isolation, going months without seeing other humans; and they told Lara Logan that four days is the longest they’ve spent apart in years. And they’re still married!
This week, 60 Minutes went to Africa to meet world-famous wildlife photographers Beverly and Dereck Joubert. We figured the couple lived an adventurous life in the wilds of Botswana, but we didn’t expect what we found on the first day of the shoot.
When Lara Logan stepped off the plane and reached out to shake Dereck’s hand, it was red, swollen, and “slushy” from a snake bite.
“It’s like having your hand in hot coals,” he told Logan.
“If it’s a black mamba, then you’ve got 10 minutes. So, we’ve made the 10 minutes,” he added nonchalantly.
Over decades living in the African bush, the Jouberts have made it through scorpion bites, several bouts of malaria, two plane crashes, daily encounters with deadly lions — and of course, snake bites.
“Anything could go wrong at any moment,” Dereck says. “It’s probably best for us not to plan for old age.”