Dereck and Beverly are environmentalists and documentary filmmakers who focus on the big cats native to their home in Botswana, and throughout Africa. They helped the National Geographic Society establish the Big Cats Initiative, which provides information and solutions to stop the number of big cats, especially lions, from dwindling.

EARLY WORK

Beverly and Dereck, who met when they were teenagers, always had an interest in the outdoors.

Dereck and his family often spent holidays in nature preserves. “It’s part of my DNA,” he says.

Beverly remembers how she and her twin brother explored the grasslands surrounding their childhood home in South Africa. She was awed by the “vast, open veldt.”

MOST EXCITING PART OF YOUR WORK

Beverly: “Being somewhere in the field and not knowing what will happen . . . capturing a unique scene or behavior . . . discovering something new for science.”

Dereck: “Spending time with individual animals, such as a leopard, and getting to know their personality and character.”

MOST DEMANDING PART OF YOUR WORK

Beverly and Dereck answer in unison: “Leaving the bush, finishing a project.”

Beverly says the hours required can be grueling. “We work seven days a week, 18-19 hours a day in extreme climates. The heat, dust, rain, and all the bugs can be emotionally exhausting, as well as physically.”

Dereck adds, “Because we work with predators, we deal with death all the time.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE GEOGRAPHY?

Dereck defines geography as an active process: “Going out into the edges of society, gathering information, and bringing it back to the center. . . . It can be a journey in the mind. Going to the edge of the unknown.

“Geography is looking at the Earth, and seeing the lines on its face.”

GEO-CONNECTION

Beverly and Dereck visit schools and museums all over the world, and they have noticed that students in developed countries are not as well-prepared in geography as students in less-developed countries.

“Kids in these far-flung places have a better sense of geography,” Dereck says. “They have to actively find themselves on a map. ‘Where am I?’”

Beverly encourages students to “get a visceral connection to a place”—not just looking for places on a map, but understanding the climate, biodiversity, and culture of a specific location.

SO, YOU WANT TO BE A . . . WILDLIFE FILMMAKER

Dereck encourages students to study diverse topics in biologyEarth science, zoology, ecology—instead of focusing on the latest camera or filmmaking technology. “Technology changes! It’s so much more important to understand the natural world,” he says.

GET INVOLVED

Beverly says conservationists “need to be completely 'in the zone'.” Turning off personal electronic devices is a great way to get closer to the natural world, she says. It allows people to always be watching and observing nature, instead of “listening for the beep-beep” of a smartphone.

Dereck is more succinct about the demands of life in the field: “Toughen up!”

Wildlife Filmmakers and Conservationists: Dereck and Beverly Joubert
Dereck and Beverly Joubert are conservationists and wildlife filmmakers.
behavior
Noun

anything an organism does involving action or response to stimulation.

big cat
Noun

large predators, including tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards.

Big Cats Initiative
Noun

National Geographic Society program that supports on-the-ground conservation projects, education, economic incentive efforts, and a global public-awareness campaign to protect big cats and their habitats.

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

biology
Noun

study of living things.

bush
adjective, noun

open, undeveloped, or sparsely populated area.

Noun

all weather conditions for a given location over a period of time.

conservationist
Noun

person who works to preserve natural habitats.

culture
Noun

learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.

diverse
Adjective

varied or having many different types.

documentary filmmaker
Noun

person who makes non-fiction movies or television programs.

dominate
Verb

to overpower or control.

Noun

tiny, dry particles of material solid enough for wind to carry.

dwindle
Verb

to shrink.

Noun

our planet, the third from the Sun. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.

Earth science
Noun

branches of study that focus on the origin and structure of the Earth. Also called geoscience.

Noun

branch of biology that studies the relationship between living organisms and their environment.

encourage
Verb

to inspire or support a person or idea.

environmentalist
Noun

person who studies or works to protect the Earth's ecosystems.

establish
Verb

to form or officially organize.

exhausting
Adjective

tiring.

far-flung
Adjective

spread over a great distance.

Noun

study of places and the relationships between people and their environments.

geology
Noun

study of the physical history of the Earth, its composition, its structure, and the processes that form and change it.

grassland
Noun

ecosystem with large, flat areas of grasses.

grueling
Adjective

physically difficult.

Noun

position of a particular point on the surface of the Earth.

Noun

symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

museum
Noun

space where valuable works of art, history, or science are kept for public view.

National Geographic Society
Noun

(1888) organization whose mission is "Inspiring people to care about the planet."

predator
Noun

animal that hunts other animals for food.

preserve
Verb

to maintain and keep safe from damage.

Noun

liquid precipitation.

smartphone
Noun

mobile telephone with additional features, such as a web browser or music playing device.

succinct
Adjective

having few words.

technology
Noun

the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.

unique
Adjective

one of a kind.

vast
Adjective

huge and spread out.

veldt
Noun

rural grasslands of southern Africa.

visceral
Adjective

having to do with deep, inward emotions or instinct.

zoology
Noun

the study of animals.