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article imageExperts: Lions could be extinct in 15 years Special

By Lynn Morris     Jul 13, 2011 in Environment
National Geographic Society's explorers-in-residence believe lions could become extinct in 15 years. Award-winning film-makers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert have been studying threatened big cats in Africa for 30 years.
Their latest film called ‘The Last Lions’ premiered this year. And they currently have an exhibition called ‘Visions of Africa’ at the National Geographic Store in Regent Street.
Dereck Joubert said: “When we went out into the wilds of Africa we needed to understand the ecosystem by looking at the top predators. There cannot be a more top predator than the lions. They give you a good idea of how everything else works.”
But since the husband and wife team have been working in Botswana they have noticed the area changing and the big cats disappearing.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert have dedicated their lives to photographing and filming big cats.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert have dedicated their lives to photographing and filming big cats.
Photo courtesy of Beverly and Dereck Joubert
Beverly Joubert said that 95 per cent of the big cats have vanished over a 50-year period, adding ‘that’s about the time we have been alive’.
The couple spend years living in the bush tracking individual cats and filming them over long periods. Their observations have pushed them more and more towards advocacy and raising awareness about the plight of the big cats of Africa.
Beverly Joubert said: “Every film or book we make acts as a platform for big cats. Our last feature film ‘The Last Lions’ we name provocatively so we could start having the conversation.
“We try to create awareness of how quickly we are losing these cats and we could lose them in 15 years. We do not want to be chastising nations or cultures. But we can not be shooting lions when the animals are in decline.”
Dereck and Beverly Joubert in Botswana.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert in Botswana.
Photo courtesy of Beverly and Dereck Joubert
Dereck Joubert explained that the system of creating parks to protect animals makes islands of land where animals were safe but because these were not continuous extinction is likely unless something is done. To prevent this the Jouberts have been buying or renting areas of land adjoining national parks to help preserve habitats and migration routes for animals. They use the land for conservation tourism run through their business Great Plains Conservation.
He said: “The way we go about life is to be part of the planet. Most people are divorced from the planet. We are trying to mend relationships for all of us.”
Big cats  Botswana.
Big cats, Botswana.
Photo courtesy of Beverly and Dereck Joubert
Two new DVDs of the Jouberts’ films called ‘Living with Big Cats’ and ‘Big Cat Odyssey’ are out now and another film called 'Ultimate Enemies' will be released in August.
More about Lions, Beverly Joubert, Leopard, last lions, National Geographic
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