The subject of Dereck and Beverly Joubert’s full-length documentary, The Last Lions, is simply – and sadly – just that. It’s about the last lions of Africa. Which is exactly what they will be unless people take action. Fifty years ago there were 450,000 lions; now there are an estimated 20,000 left. All that in a mere half century. This has been caused by the encroachment of civilization, poaching, and sport hunting.
It’s a fact learned by few people who go on safari. They don’t realize that the animals they are watching, enjoying, enthralled by, might not be there for their own children to one day see. And that’s what the Jouberts, who have been filming predators in southern Africa for twenty years, mostly for National Geographic, are trying to do with The Last Lions. They want to make people aware of the beauty and irreplaceable richness that will die when the predator cats do.
The Jouberts follow one lioness, who, with her three cubs, flees a pride of females and settles on Duba island in Botswana. The rest of the movie is about her battle to keep her family alive, to feed them, and to fend off attacks by other cats and a massive herd of buffalo. It’s a story of Africa’s wildlife, heartbreaking at times, but it reminds you what’s at stake. Lions in all their glory.
Financed by National Geographic, which has launched Cause an Uproar in order to spread information about the plight of lions. Also, The Big Cat Initiative, which was started by the Jouberts and National Geographic, is working in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya, and other countries, to try and halt the decrease in the number of cats. As Dereck Joubert says, “We are fighting for one cat at a time.”
But the Jouberts also do their own share.
As stakeholders in the Great Plains Conservation, which owns properties in Botswana, Tanzania, and Kenya – such as Duba Plains, where the movie was filmed, and Ol Donyo Lodge – the company puts money back into conservation and cat programs and anti-poaching. To support their company and its properties is to support wildlife.