After 30 years of dedicated work in the conservation of wildlife, and making films that capture some of the most heart-stopping moments in the lives of Africa’s iconic animals, Dereck and Beverly Joubert have been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. A deserved honour it is, previously having been awarded to renowned and admired leaders in the battle for wildlife protection, Dr Richard Leaky, Dr Jane Goodall and Sir David Attenborough.
The Jouberts delivered the keynote speech upon acceptance of this accolade, speaking volumes about the rapid rate at which we are losing rhino, elephant, leopard and lion due to an insatiable market in China and South East Asia. Their words really resonated that day, as it was also the day that Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe took a horrific hit in a mass poaching attack. On 26 September, it was announced that 81 elephants had been killed due to cyanide poisoning in the park. This incidence represents the monstrosity of the battle we face and further emphasises the message delivered by Dereck and Beverly that day:
“Poaching today has reached epidemic proportions and the same individuals who deal in drugs, slavery and arms are also dealing in ivory and rhino horn. And they are not playing by any rules. There is a $27 billion a year trade in illegal animals and animal parts out of Africa so unless we are in a position to fight that with real money, we will lose. When we lose, elephants, lions and rhinos lose. When they lose, communities in Africa lose, everyone loses. This is a declaration of war against poaching and a call to action to everyone. We are about to record the 700th rhino poached this year alone. Unless we are making conservation films at this time we are wasting our voice. This is when we are most needed to drive home messages of conservation to the world. The area that natural history filmmakers can play a role is in stopping the market. Our films collectively reach billions of people; that opportunity is completely wasted by producing television fluff and broadcasting meaningless TV fodder.”
“National Geographic has to be commended on many levels, but notably when we came to them with our concerns they backed the establishment of the Big Cats Initiative which now has over 44 projects in 18 countries and given away over $1m in grants. It’s shocking that people still say that lions could not go extinct, but they have already gone extinct in 26 countries, and only 7 have populations of over 1,000.”
“Wildlife filmmaking has changed over the three decades we have been involved. It’s time for filmmakers to develop into conservationists and not be afraid of advocacy. We are starting a new conversation movement and a film company, both based in China, because this is where our voices need to be heard, this is where the largest consumption of lion bone, rhino horn and elephant ivory is, and without those three species, African wildlife will collapse.”
Dereck & Beverly Joubert’s new film, Game of Lions, will debut on Nat Geo WILD, during their popular ‘Big Cat Week’ in November this year, initially in the USA.
This film looks at the lives of lions, particularly males, of which, according to Dereck, there are only about 3 500 left in the wild. Out of an estimated total of 20 000 wild lions remaining in Africa, why is it that the ratio of male to female is so imbalanced? Lions can be brutal and they fight for survival and for the longevity of the strongest genes. Game of Lions is a heart-rending film about why only 1 in 8 male lions born makes it passed maturity. Let this film serve as a reminder that we cannot contribute to this natural imbalance through trophy hunting, whereby the lack of male lions is exacerbated to the point of their extinction. How that would detriment the world is unspeakable.
Original source: Great Plains Conservation