The reason behind every Joubert film is conservation. They started filmmaking as a way to get that message out, and that ethic is reflected in everything they do, in all their films and books. Each project also shows a deep appreciation of the beauty, and understanding of wild Africa.
“It is my firm belief that what we have learnt since Darwin and Wallace is that islands and the wildlife on them are vulnerable. The smaller the island the more likely an extinction in the future. What we have done in African wildlife management is divide up free ranges and make them into islands of safe zones surrounded by wildlife hostile blocks, be they hunting, ranching, farming or civilization. If any effort at all is to be put into conservation it has to go towards linking these islands again, joining them up and recreating home ranges and natural migration routes. This can't happen without everyone's help, from governments to local communities to the commercial sector." Dereck continues, "However to insist that wildlife and nature pay for their existence is very shortsighted. Beverly adds; “We believe that the African landscape is a wonderful and beautiful thing. Mankind is also wonderful and we’re tremendously hopeful that we equipped with the knowledge, facts and increased appreciation we will understand that we are a part of nature not apart from it. If we can play a small role in getting that knowledge out or inspiring people, we will have succeeded.”
GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION
The Jouberts have joined forces with some dynamic and successful partners, to create a company that has its basic mission in the words ‘Conservation Tourism”.
Great Plains is a conservation initiative that uses the best assets of lightest footprint tourism to re-establish areas, to enhance natural habitats and to expand wild places. In association with parks national parks and game reserves, buffer zones can be created and these iconic places of the world can be given a helping hand.
Dereck is presently CEO of Great Plains and hopes to take the present 1 million acres of wild land under management to at least twice that in a few years.
“We must assume that governments have the parks under control. What we can do is attach to the boundaries of those parks, enhance them, protect them and play a role in buffering or protecting those parks themselves. We’re identifying key corridors and working to lease land in these linking areas, especially for predator protection reasons.”
Areas currently targeting on conservation:
BOTSWANA’S SELINDA RESERVE
The Selinda Reserve is a 350,000 acre private wildlife sanctuary in the northern part of Botswana run by Great Plains. It is centered around the famous Selinda Spillway which snakes its way through the reserve, linking the outer reaches of the Okavango Delta in the west with the Linyanti Swamps in the east - a truly spectacular and unique landscape.
It is also home to over 9,000 elephants amongst other wildlife but the main reason for the Joubert’s purchasing the lease on Selinda was to turn it from a hunting area into viable conversation and photographic tourism.
“When we took over just a few years ago, 80% of the land at Selinda was used for trophy hunting. On our first day of tenure we stopped all the hunting and since have seen a tremendous difference as the wildlife has responded in kind. Elephants sensed the change and now calmly drink as you pass by. Lion numbers have increased, Painted dogs den at Selinda and Cheetah do well, and in general the whole area seems to now breathe a deep sigh of relief.”
The camps Great Plains run there are as sustainable and as green as they can be: solar powered, and heated, even vehicles drive on recycled cooking oil. The famous Zarafa camp is their flagship camp, a place where the Jouberts first camped and filmed 20 years ago.
Great Plains is involved in Kenya at ol Donyo Lodge, adjoining the Chylu Hills, Park and overlooking Amboseli, with a camp in the OOC private conservancy adjoining the Masai Mara, inside the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania.
Visit www.greatplainsconservation.com for more information.
Lions and big cats in general have been a passion for the Jouberts for thirty years and their work has followed the conservation of lions via films, books, National Geographic Magazine articles and a range of other work. It was when they became Explorers in Residence at National Geographic that they looked back at their life’s work and realized that inspiring people about the beauty of big cats was not having a big enough effect. They approached National Geographic with their startling findings after sifting through the numbers. In 50 years lions have dropped in number from 450,000 to around 20,000. Leopards have gone from 700,000 to about 50,000 and there are fewer that 12,000 wild cheetah.
As a result Dereck and Beverly started the Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic as an emergency action plan to reverse that trend within 5 years. The BCI has so far issued grants to 86 projects in 27 countries and continues to search for innovative projects that can substantially change the way lion conservation is carried out.
Visit http://greatplainsfoundation.com/lions/ for more information.
“Botswana's elephant population is often under fire for being out of control. However if you fly over Botswana you will be astounded if you know this reputation by the lack of elephants! More recent opinion by scientist Mike Chase indicates that the population has stabilized and tailed off. In addition you will be struck by what looks like miles and miles of perfect elephant habitat, and once again I would caution that the media attention on a few hectares along the Chobe River, which in the worst months of the dry season does look over used, the rest of the country is not.” Elephants can and will move through most of the 17,000 sq km of available land to them. Culling is not an option they support. Corridors and transfrontier parks are a far better way to manage wild elephant populations. Visit http://www.greatplainsfoundation.com/ for more information.
Botswana is a role model for Africa in many ways, military forces trained up as anti poaching units all but exterminated every single vestige of poaching in the country under the leadership of the then Commander, Lt General Ian Khama who later went on to become Vice President and now President of Botswana with no lessening of his passion for wildlife in his country. Under the stewardship of the President, Botswana presents one of the finest examples of hope for wildlife in Africa. For more on this see the Jouberts film Wildlife Warriors. Today the Department of Wildlife does a good job of managing in a subtle a way. Many management styles are heavy handed. Botswana’s is not. It is more about protection from abuse, poaching and less about development. Visit http://greatplainsconservation.com/our-initiatives/ for more information
The recent increase in rhino poaching and the media coverage of that highlights a growing problem in Africa where greed dominates. What happens to rhinos today is happening to big cats as well, as South Africa opens up legal lion bone trade and the illegal bone trade live in the blurred space between traditional medicines and myth that is damaging to all wildlife. Rhinos are the major victims of that. In Rhino Rescue produced by Dereck and Beverly, the Botswana success is celebrated but the less said about locations the better today. Currently the Jouberts are working on a rhino conservation project called ‘Rhinos Without Borders’, an initiative in partnership with Great Plains Conservation and And Beyond which aims to move 100 rhinos from South Africa to Botswana to save them from the poaching crisis, whilst creating a ‘Noah’s Ark’ for rhino genes.
For more information visit http://www.rhinoswithoutborders.com/
The future is in the future! Children of course represent that. At Selinda and in association with that program and National Geographic and Great Plains, kids are selected from the poorest communities to participate in a Photo Camp, where Great Plains closes down one of its safari camps, brings in educators and exposes kids to photography conservation and life skills courses. It is a huge success.
The Jouberts have initiated a Big Cats Caring for Communities that Care for Big Cats that include local language versions of their big cat films and a specifically designed ‘cartoon’ book on how to avoid diseases like HIV/AIDS. Dereck and Beverly also send their films to various schools and NGOs in Botswana.
For more information, click here
With so many African species of wildlife on the decline it is no longer acceptable to ‘enjoy’ the killing of animals for sport, recreation and fun. It has been scientifically proven that trophy hunting of lions causes their decline (Packer et al) It’s something the Jouberts have been speaking about for many years. It is controversial and an unpopular message in may circles but besides the science, the declines that big game hunting brings, they believe there is an associated erosion of spirit and ethics that come as part of the industry today. Gone are the romantic days of Selous walking up through Africa to explore and hunt. Even Teddy Roosevelt ‘collected’ over 1,200 dead animals on a 6 month trip, and Selous, often called the Father of Hunting addressed a gathering at the Royal Geographic Society in the early 20th century and said that under the use of the modern gun (in 1910) and the poor ethics of hunters, he didn’t expect to see big game in Africa last much longer.
Sport hunting, recreational hunting, blood sports are no longer acceptable morally. If there is to be a hunting industry at all in the future there must be a new way of management of the hunters, by the hunters themselves, with full accountability for their actions, as morally disturbing as sanctioned killing of animals for the fun of it is.
Visit http://greatplainsfoundation.com/lions/ for more information.
The wilderness is a state of mind, but it lives in wild places, and as we are seeing in Selinda where hunting was stopped and the animals have come back in numbers, wilderness can be recreated.
Protection of bio-diversity is paramount, as the Joubert’s colleague on the Big Cats Initiative Grants Committee Tom Lovejoy who coined the phrase believes, in managing the world’s ecosystems. Managing for recreation of Wild Places and the Wild Things within them, while we have them still in such rich abundance is what drives the Jouberts.