1. Meet Dereck Joubert.
2. And this is his wife, Beverly.
3. Together they are basically the biggest lion experts in the world.
4. He takes video.
5. She does still photography.
6. Over the past 30 years they’ve learned how to blend science and art.
7. They’ve made over 30 films and are National Geographic explorers in residence.
Their latest film, called Game of Lions, premieres on Nat Geo Wild on Dec. 1.
8. Dereck and Beverly met over 30 years ago in South Africa. Dereck had gone away for military training and on his return back called his friend. His friend was going on a date with Beverly. Dereck told him, “No you’re not. I am.”
Dereck set up his friend with another lady. Dereck and Beverly went on a date. They have been together ever since.
9. After that, they moved to the bush as two adventurous filmmakers in love in search of a romantic lifestyle.
10. Somewhere along the way they figured out they could use their voice to create something good.
11. The two of them have spent a large part of their lives dispelling myths about animals.
12. For one, people thought hyenas were just dirty scavengers.
But the Jouberts have filmed them attacking other animals. Myth busted.
13. They also are the first to ever capture video of lions attacking elephants.
14. The most important myth they’ve dismissed is that hunting serves conservation purposes.
Shooting animals does not protect wilderness. You can read more about that here.
15. They’re pretty ballsy too. Dereck says, “In order to get a shot no one else has, you have to put yourself in dangerous and strenuous situations.”
16. The Jouberts usually wake up before sunrise and spend all day in the bush following a group of lions.
Their absolute favorite area to watch lions is in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The Okavango Delta has the largest lions in the world.
17. Over the years they’ve perfected their tracking of animals, especially buffalo. Where there is a herd of buffalo, you’ll usually find a pride of lions nearby.
The Jouberts will wait with the buffalo for hours and hours.
18. All of that waiting basically makes them legitimately the chillest people ever.
I got to spend three days with them and I couldn’t believe how calm and relaxed they were.
19. Beverly is super into homeopathic medicine.
She has a remedy for everything. Just a few months prior, Dereck got bitten by a deadly snake. For a week, Beverly used homeopathic treatments on the wound. Unfortunately, they weren’t working too well. When they went to the hospital, doctors said Dereck’s blood was nearly tar. So that didn’t work, but he still made it.
I will say, she gave us these little tablets for dehydration, and they totally worked.
20. When I asked them who inspires them most, the two of them thought for a moment before each saying each other.
21. Beverly said she admires Dereck’s total drive, tenacity, and creativity.
22. Dereck said about Beverly, “We live a completely different lifestyle. We’re two people alone together for months. She’s the toughest guy I know.”
23. They’ve learned the importance of companionship from lions. Beverly says, “A lion alone isn’t effective, just like man.”
They also admire how they communicate with each other. Lions are very social animals.
24. The Jouberts are also fascinated with cracking the code for making effective and moving films about lions for other cultures.
China is the big market they’re trying to crack. They say attention spans are very low there, and they need to create short, punchy films to really get their message to stick.
25. They see themselves as CSI investigators, piecing together little pieces of evidence. It takes them about six years to confirm a theory they have about animal behavior.
26. Through the course of their time and many hours with the lions, they’ve developed a special relationship.
27. They both just kind of live with each other… It’s almost like they’re part of the lion pride.
28. One of their biggest accomplishments is setting up the Big Cats Initiative.
29. The Big Cats Initiative seeks to raise awareness about the world’s big cat population.
30. They have a new project coming out later this year called the “cat genome project.”
It’s really quite brilliant. They’re having people send in DNA samples of their cats and then they can determine where the cat originated from.
31. Ultimately, the Jouberts do what they do to raise awareness for big cats.
They are INCREDIBLY passionate people.
32. The message they want people to know the most is this: There are 90% fewer lions than there were 75 years ago.
33. They believe that in 100 years there may be no lions at all. Their job is to delay that from happening for as long as possible.
34. Beverly says, “If we can’t protect the lions, how can we protect any species? Ourselves?”
35. The Jouberts feel that one of the biggest problems humans face is that we’ve divorced ourselves from nature.
36. And in case you were wondering, they have no children.
37. Beverly says, “We have one child and that is the planet.”
38. Oh yeah, I couldn’t not mention his badass ponytail.
39. And her awesome style.
40. Lastly, they say cats of all types follow them everywhere they go.
So that’s pretty cool too.