Beverly and Derek Joubert, Nature Lovers and Inhabitants

World-renowned documentarians Derek and Beverly Gobert have worked for over thirty years to photograph wildlife and their natural habitats, spurring our fascination with large predators and encouraging us to take action to save them from the extinction they face.

Their passion, and connection with them, has turned into a commitment over the decades, taking the form of the Big Cat Initiative. Since 2009, with National Geographic, they’ve been engaged in a field around a central idea: Big cats need big business. A multi-year campaign that includes not only protection and awareness raising, but also funding for research projects aimed at conserving the big cat species whose future depends more than ever on us.

Big cats fascinate, they have this unique presence, this fake indifference, this instinct that characterizes great hunters. She is as beautiful as she is menacing and as powerful as she is feared.

And soon, they will be just a distant memory, a residual imprint in the history of our planet. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 26 species of big cats are now threatened with extinction. Our children and grandchildren may never know Asiatic leopards, snow leopards, Iberian lynxes, Sumatran tigers, South African tigers, or even African lions.

Beverly and Derek Joubert have stood and continue to make great documentaries against this fatalism that hardly suits them. We met them in 2021 on the occasion of the broadcast of their last movie, tiger jaderebroadcast this month on National Geographic Wild, as part of a collection dedicated to these two documentaries, “Les Films des Joubert,” starting Wednesday 1Verse From June to Wednesday 15 June at 9 pm

Why did you choose to dedicate your career and your life to animals, especially big cats? Do you find it particularly fascinating, or is life what drew you to it?

Derek Joubert : We went into the jungle to try to understand each other and to understand this continent in which we were born (Africa, Editor’s Note). Somewhat awkwardly, we realized that to make sense of all of this, we really had to focus on the big, imaginative predators and we fell in love, obviously. We fell in love with each other, and we fell in love with the big cats. Then we realized that few creatures match the big cats.

Beverly Joubert : To be complete, I think we can consider the past forty years as a reference study; Every decade things have changed. First, as Derek said, we were very excited and excited about what we were filming. But soon we discovered the atrocities that this region was subjected to and of course the predators. We knew we had to talk. That’s why we launched the Big Cat initiative with National Geographic. Because during the film’s production period, two to three years, approximately 10,000 tigers were legally killed by bounty hunters. And we’re only talking about the number of people who have been legally killed… We quickly understood that this would not be sustainable and that soon there would be no more leopards on the planet. So the Big Cat Initiative has given us a voice to talk about big cats.

Derek Joubert : Beverly is right about the four phases, the first decade [de notre travail] She was marked by love and celebration for these big cats, and second by anger at what was happening to her. Our third and final decade is dedicated to working to save these felines.

Across the world, animals are now threatened by human activities: habitat loss, poaching, and bounty hunting are all direct threats… How do you, as filmmakers, find the right balance between the need to inform, the need to alert the audience, and the need to entertain?

Derek Joubert : I think we are storytellers. Storytelling comes naturally to us. I think even if you have something important to say, you have to say it well. It can be entertaining and carry a message. If there is no message, it’s not really fun. They are just lions that jump on any prey. For us, it really has to make sense and I think audiences respond to this way of telling stories.

Beverly Joubert : Absolutely. Preservation is at the core of our films, but since we’ve always given ourselves two to three years to be on the ground and film it, it has allowed us to consider our characters’ personalities. What you see on the screen is not an ordinary lion, tiger or leopard. We choose to join you in a family of leopards. And by living side by side with them, by sharing their fears so to speak, we realize the enormous challenges they have to face every day. They have to survive in their changing environment, they have to escape from other predators… This is how we manage to attract the interest of a very large audience.

Derek Joubert : And you know, nothing is filmed or made up. in tiger jadeyou can see that this tiger has personality.

Beverly Joubert : It was really unique to us. We lived among leopards and they had amber colored eyes and suddenly we saw this tiger’s eyes swinging between turquoise and jade. Take our breath away. It captivated us, which is important in being able to tell a story. Each of the 50,000 African panthers has a unique personality. That’s why we really need to protect them all, now more than ever.

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