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.
I could be in the presence of leopards every minute of each day. Around 2003 [my husband] Dereck [Joubert] and I were fortunate to discover a newborn leopard cub. We had been tracking its mother for a few days. She led us to her den, where we met this tiny little fluffy fur ball, who we later called Legadema.
Legadema wobbled around her mother’s feet, very vulnerable. I instantly fell in love with this precious little creature. She was so exquisite in every way, from her camouflaged, beautiful fur coat to those piercing eyes. As she grew, her steel-blue eyes turned an incredible shade of bright amber, and they were always attentive.
She was filled with curiosity while she explored and investigated the forest. On many days she stared right at me, appearing to understand that we were not there to harm her but to protect her species. Her eyes would show compassion, which is so much of what I felt in her company.
The moments we spent with this mother and daughter were a lesson in caring and compassion. Their attention to each other, as if nothing else mattered, was part of the love affair I started feeling for all leopards. This moment changed our lives. For three and a half years we followed this inquisitive little cat. She seduced us to the point that we had no choice but to become ambassadors for leopards. —Beverly Joubert
National Geographic explorers—anthropologists, archaeologists, conservationists, photographers, educators, oceanographers, epidemiologists, paleontologists, geneticists, geographers, linguists, urban planners, and more—gather at the Society’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to share their latest discoveries and insights with one another and the National Geographic staff.The annual Explorers Symposium has become a forum for visionary individuals across a range of fields to meet and find ways to collaborate on innovative projects. Participants include the new class of National Geographic Emerging Explorers, along with Explorers-in-Residence, Visiting Fellows, and others. The 2009 symposium featured two days of panel discussions on topics ranging from cultural heritage to our ocean’s future, engaging communities in conservation to the power of the image.
Find out more at www.nationalgeographic.com/explorers/projects/explorers-symposium/
Did you know that there are now more tigers living in captivity than there are in the wild? The big cats of the world are disappearing at alarming rates. National Geographic Society and Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert, launched the Big Cats Initiative to help spread the word and hopefully save these majestic animals.
“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck Joubert. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now.”
The second annual Big Cat Week is premiering this Sunday, December 11th through December 17th on Nat Geo WILD. The week is part of the National Geographic’s Big Cat’s Initiative, and features programs from award winning filmmakers, including an airing of the film The Last Lions. The Last Lions premieres Friday 12/16 at 8P ET, but you can catch a small sneak peek right here.
Article by: Aimee Gertsch
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 HILLS, Calif. – When we think of endangered species we think of the red wolf, the black rhinoceros or even the short-haired chinchilla – if we think of them at all. But people rarely consider the big cats.
Still, they are among that elite group of animals (along with man) who are just trying to make it through the night.
Nat Geo Wild will chronicle some of these lithe predators when it plays its own game of Hello, Kitty with “Big Cat Week,” beginning Sunday.
One of the featured films will be “The Last Lions” by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, wildlife photographers and researchers who’ve been stalking the stalkers for 30 years.
“One of the alarming things for us, which was the sort of genesis of this film and this ‘Big Cat Week,’ actually, is that we discovered that in our lifetimes, lion numbers have dropped from 450,000 down to 20,000, and the leopard numbers are from 700,000 down to 50,000,” says Dereck Joubert.
It’s hard to believe, but more tigers are living in captivity today than in the wild.
“And by that sort of extension of curve, you will imagine these big cats to be extinct within the next 10 or 15 years,” he says.
“So we are very definitely passionate about big cats. We’ve been working on this for a long time, but now is the time for us to bring it to the attention – what we’re so excited about with the ‘Big Cat Week’ is that we found a broadcast on National Geographic that will actually give us an entire week and a platform to get this across, which is fantastic,” he says.
The Jouberts were born in South Africa, but say they moved to Botswana because they “needed to go out into the real Africa. … I thought that the big cats would lead us into a greater understanding of the rest of Africa, and then we kind of got stuck there,” says Dereck.
Why the big cats? Why not apes or crocodiles or prairie dogs? “They really are the iconic species in Africa,” says Beverly. “Without saving the apex predator, we’re going to lose vast tracts of land. If the apex predator is taken out of the system, the whole system will collapse. But also, man will move into the system, and man will eventually take every single animal out of there as bush meat. So we ultimately need to keep the apex predators alive so that we’ve got corridors for elephants, for antelope, and the tiny little dung beetles. It is vitally important.”
Part of the “Big Cats Week” is the National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term commitment to staunch the decline of these denizens of the wild. While cheetahs have disappeared from more than 75 percent of their range, the cheetah story offers a glimmer of hope, says Dereck Joubert.
“Cheetahs today came out of a genetic bottleneck of about 200 individuals and then grew back up to about 45,000 to 50,000. Today they’re down around 12,000. But the fact that you can actually recover a species is what gives us so much hope, and we think that we can do exactly the same with lions and leopards.”
“A lot of people don’t believe there is even a problem, so they all feel, ‘Why should we worry?’” says Beverly. “But through the Big Cats Initiative, we’ve just managed to raise a lot of money for cheetahs, so we will have a lot of cheetah programs out there. We’re not only looking at lions and leopards.”
The Jouberts spend days upon end watching wildlife do its thing. They see the animals prosper and perish. Sometimes it’s hard to watch and not intervene, says Beverly.
“It’s heart-wrenching. On a daily basis it’s heart-wrenching. So I don’t know if we’ve got a certain personality. We have a concern of looking at the bigger picture and wanting to protect wildlife in general. And so it is wrong of us to believe that we are going to play God with nature. This has been happening for millions of years. What we’re trying to do is show how unique and how similar, actually, wildlife is to us by doing that (observing) – and not interfering – even though it is heart-wrenching. Often Dereck and I will say that we’re more emotionally drained than physically drained even though we’re working 16 to 18 hours a day.”
The two-hour premiere of the Joubert’s documentary, “The Last Lions,” airs Dec. 16.
The 50th anniversary edition of the classic film “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 30. It’s digitally remastered, enhanced with two documentaries and three hours of special features.
Before he died, Gregory Peck, who starred in the movie, told me it remained his favorite film. “If something affects (the audience) in a good way, it’s because the emotions are real,” he said. “They are exactly what they were. To make any sense about it, it’s emotion. You draw on feelings. And you hope that produces the right expression. You recall the feelings from some past experience, or maybe just out of your imagination.”
Ugly Betty is now a marine biologist – at least as far as “Sid the Science Kid” is concerned. The PBS Kids’ show is featuring pert America Ferrera as Dr. Rosalinda Cordova, a marine biologist and mother of Sid’s pal, Gabriela. She will instruct the children about different job possibilities in the world of science. The point is especially targeted to young girls who might like to become scientists when they grow up … The Game Show Network is lacing up its dancing shoes in a deal signed with ABC that permits the cable network to air Seasons 4 through 13 of “Dancing With the Stars” reruns beginning in January.
ABC’s funny family comedy, “Last Man Standing,” beat out “Glee” last week and hung in there as Tuesday’s most watched comedy. The show, which stars former standup Tim Allen, continues to climb in popularity. Allen was so successful on “Home Improvement,” he could have never worked another day in his life. But he’s still an ordinary Joe who still likes to earn his keep.
“Yesterday somebody said, ‘You’re washing your own car?’ I said, ‘Yeah, just because I have success doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I enjoy washing my car.’ Many things are different, my choices are broader but most things are the same. You don’t change essentially,” he says.
“There are times when I go, ‘God, I could just do ANYTHING. I could just live with gold faucets and stuff like that. But I think that’s more or less (having) control of it. I’ve been out of control in so many things in my life, luckily spending is not one of them or gambling.”
Article by: LUAINE LEE
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If cats really do have nine lives, the big wild cats of Africa are probably down to their last one or two.
But help may be on the way, in the form of an ambitious new program to explore, test, and develop successful strategies to restore and safeguard the continent's lions, cheetahs, and leopards.
The brainchild of Dereck and Beverly Joubert, veteran wildlife filmmakers and photographers, the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative has seeded eight field projects in recent months in an effort to stop and reverse the precipitous decline of Africa's lions.
Los Angeles, CA — Dereck and Beverly Joubert, Co–Founders of Great Plains Conservation proudly announce their next feature film “Game of Lions” premiering Sunday, December 1, 2013 at 10 p.m. ET/7 PT on Nat Geo Wild as part of the network’s highest rated week, BIG CAT WEEK. Filmed in the heart of Africa’s great wildernesses of the Okavango Deltaand Selinda Reserve, on land conserved by Great Plains Conservation, the film answers one of the Joubert’s most pressing question after three decades of observing the great predators of Africa. “My whole life I’ve been fascinated by the question of what happens to young male lions when they get kicked out [of a pride] and become nomads, and what it takes to win the rights to emerge as a challenger to a pride male.” said filmmaker Dereck Joubert
As Joubert tells it, the film follows, “this extraordinary rite of passage, this boot camp for young male lions, and it touches on a subject that probably intrigues or bothers any young man, I suppose. Beverly and I had a lot of fun doing this because we were all over the place, following nomads, trying to understand what no one has so far covered because there are no basic rules to being a survivor, except to survive. Just one out of eight lions survive into adulthood and those that do enter into a game of kins, as each bloodline fights for its ultimate survival and the right to win a pride. Their fate has always been a mystery that has stumped conservationists and scientists for years.”
In Nat Geo WILD’s TV premiere of “Game of Lions,” narrated by Jeremy Irons for National Geographic Television andChannels, the Jouberts take an unflinching look at what happens to these lions in this spirited, moving and heartbreaking film set in the heart of the great plains of Africa.
“We were lucky to be able to do this project on land and in camps operated by Great Plains Conservation, areas which are truly wild places, with all the natural predators and prey in place and large enough for our needs on this film, because these young males really roam over huge distances and without working on reserves of this size, we’d have been stopping, applying for permissions on different land and losing our subjects every other day. As it was, we lost most of them!”
The Joubert estimates there are 20,000 lions left on Earth. Only 3,500 of those are males. Although they are born at a 50/50 ratio, by the time they reach maturity, very few remain — a fact attributable to both natural and unnatural causes.
About Great Plains Conservation:
Great Plains Conservation is a conservation company that uses tourism as a major component to help make conservation financially viable through what we call “Conservation Tourism.” Our projects and safari camps in Botswana and Kenya are rooted in this passion to make the environment whole again. They focus on providing a meaningful experience, something special for people but by doing so with a strong commitment to the lowest impact, high value, and safari experiences. Ensuring that areas in which we operate are environmentally sustainable and financially working enterprises for conservation and for communities is what we consider responsible tourism and business.
More than a television event, BIG CAT WEEK is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long–term commitment by the National Geographic Society to stop poaching, save habitat and sound the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world. This global initiative actively supports on–the–ground conservation projects and education to help stem and eventually reverse the rapid disappearance of big cat populations. For more information on BIG CAT WEEK, visitwww.natgeowild.com/bigcatweek or follow us on twitter @NGC_PR. More information on the Big Cats Initiative and how you can get involved, visit www.causeanuproar.com.
Great Plains Conservation — www.Greatplainsconservation.com
Dereck and Beverly Joubert — www.Wildlifefilms.co
Caroline Graham, C4 Global Communications
Dear Dereck, Beverly and Verity,
We are happy to inform you that your film “The Unlikely Leopard”
received a Special Mention from the International Jury at Sondrio
Festival 2013 – International Documentary Film Festival on Parks (XXVII
edition, Sondrio, Italy, 30 September – 6 October 2013):
“The jury feels compelled to make a special mention for the film The
Unlikely Leopard. This strong competitor used superior cinematography
and excellent narration to challenge the audience to question the
relationship between our appreciation of beauty and the realities of
exploitation. For demanding our attention to a serious conservation
dilemma, this work shows us the danger in loving the leopard to death.”