Wildlife Photographer and Filmmaker Beverly Joubert | Making a Difference for the Love of Animals
Beverly and Dereck Joubert are among the most famous wildlife filmmakers in the world. Dedicated to the conservation of wildlife, their healthy outrage against what is happening to wild places and precious animals shows their endless passion, compassion, and commitment.
When we do something we love with someone we love, surrounded by creatures and the beauty of nature we love, the possibilities to do what others may think impossible are endless.
They met in high school, where they shared an interest in Africa. When they were studying lions initially, Dereck found a discarded film camera and started using it. He passed on his stills cameras to Beverly. From there they evolved as a team, eventually becoming award-winning wildlife documentary-makers based on respect and deep empathy for each other and everything around them. They take their guidance from elephants, who rarely charge or become aggressive but rather live intelligently and with dignity in their herds.
To do their work, the filmmakers have to get rather close to wild animals who could seriously injure or even kill them. “It’s not really as dangerous as everyone thinks,” they claim. “If one is as used to it as we are, you can read the signs and stay out of conflict almost all the time. It’s that time when you get caught off guard that can be alarming.”
They’ve had a range of deadly encounters with elephants, lions, snakes and scorpions, but more recently they were attacked by a buffalo, which nearly ended Beverly’s life. She spent months in hospital, with twenty-seven broken bones, undergoing over twenty hours of surgery and more than a year of rehabilitation. However, the takeaway was an amazing change of life—a greater urgency to get their work done, more effectively and on a larger scale.
“In the moment it was horrendous, of course, although we both had a sense of calm about getting through it,” Beverly explains. “Dereck was focused on saving my life, and I gave up anxiety to the moment and just had to be, (as broken as I was) and at some stage, I was at peace with letting go. Not to be recommended!”
A series of their photographs for sale focuses on the eyes of the animals. What do they feel when making eye contact with a leopard or lion, we wonder? It’s all about respect. When one engages with a fellow human, you look them in the eye. Similarly, Beverly loves engaging via the camera with any subject via the eyes. With great caution, of course, because in the animal’s language, direct eye contact can be a threat, therefore many of Beverly’s eye shots have the big cat looking just over her shoulder.
As an intuitive still photographer, Beverly Joubert creates images that tell a captivating story in an instant and in just one frame. Her photographic stories are a celebration of the utter beauty and absolute wonder of wildlife. They have been awarded by institutions such as the American Academy of Achievement and the World of Ecology. In addition, the filmmakers received eight Emmy Awards, a Peabody, and various additional film awards. In 2009, they were inducted into the American Academy of Achievement.
As a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Beverly has specialized in African wildlife photography for over thirty years. She deeply connects with her subjects, which allows her to understand a leopard through the highlights in his eyes. They tell her what the leopard will do next because she has seen it a thousand times before.
A founder of the Big Cats Initiative, she also holds a seat on the Great Plains Conservation boards in Kenya and Botswana but her most prestigious and most valued accolade to date is the Presidential Order of Merit awarded to her by the former President of Botswana, His Excellency Ian Khama for her work to enhance the reputation of Botswana through her photography. At the same time, through the Great Plains Foundation, women and children in the nearest communities are getting a second chance at education and jobs.
Beverly and Dereck call for the general public to make the world a better place by developing a new Earth ethic and teaching a new way to interact with nature while protecting what we have now.
“We need to save big cats and other wildlife via our National Geographic effort and continue to educate via our Great Plains Foundation.”