Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who have been National Geographic explorers-in-residence for over four years. Their mission is the conservation and understanding of the large predators and key African wildlife species that determine the course of all conservation in Africa.
They have been filming, researching, and exploring in Africa for over 28 years. Their coverage of unique predator behavior has resulted in 22 films, 10 books, 6 scientific papers, and many articles for National Geographic magazine. This body of work has resulted in five Emmys, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and a recent induction into the American Academy of Achievement. They recently have been awarded the Presidential Order of Merit by the government of Botswana for their life’s work.
Beverly Joubert also is an acclaimed photographer, and many of her photographs have appeared in National Geographic magazine.
Filmmaking for them has always been a way to bring the message of conservation to audiences, and it is estimated that over a billion viewers have seen their film Eternal Enemies.
Their recent expansion into conservation tourism via their new company, Great Plains, is a venture into community/conservation partnerships in Africa, and Great Plains has received international awards for responsible tourism.
It is the Jouberts’ belief that while some areas need the wilderness to be maintained in isolation, other areas will disappear unless viable, extremely-light-ecological-footprint (low-volume, high-cost) benefits are generated for communities. The total amount of impacted conservation land under Great Plains influence is about 1.5 million acres (607,000 hectares). These projects all aim to rehabilitate the environment and return these vast tracts of land to nature.
But it is the plight of big cats that attracts their major effort today. Dereck and Beverly established the Big Cats Initiative, a program with National Geographic designed as an emergency action fund to drive the world’s attention to big cats and to develop real solutions to stop the decline that has seen lion numbers drop from 450,000 to 20,000 in 50 years.
“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck. “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.”