Out of Africa: into the wild world of Beverly Joubert.

Beverly Joubert is a multi award-winning photographer and filmmaker known for the African wildlife conservation documentaries that she co-produces with her husband, Dereck Joubert. The duo, who are both National Geographic Explorers-In-Residence, have been researching in Africa for the past thirty years. Their mission? To save the wild places on that extraordinary continent and to protect those indigenous creatures who call it home. Two of the most famous wildlife filmmakers in the world, their work, which they describe as instinctual, has been recognised by all sorts of august institutions: they have been garlanded with awards from the American Academy of Achievement; scooped The World Ecology Award; and they are the recipients of no fewer than six Emmys. Her crowning glory came, however, when Beverly was awarded the Presidential Order of Merit by the president of Botswana His Excellency Ian Khama, for ‘work done for the enhancement of the reputation of Botswana via her images.’

A founder of the Big Cats Initiative, Beverly also sits on the board of WildAid in San Francisco, and regionally on Great Plains Conservation boards in Kenya and Botswana. If you want to learn more, do watch Beverly and Dereck’s inspirational TED Talk, and follow her on Instagram here.



Her skills lie, she says, not in technical wizardry but in her long immersion in the habitats that so fascinate her; in her ability to anticipate the behaviours of her subjects, having observed them closely for so many years; and in the fact that the world she documents and defends is embedded within her soul.

It is a life that is not without its dangers. Here, she shares some of her digital habits – many of them learned while recovering in hospital after being impaled on a buffalo’s horn. From the podcasts she listened to while undergoing five surgeries, to her enduring love affair with The National Geographic, this is a glimpse into the extraordinary life of Beverly Joubert.

My favourite website...


Is probably one on meditation – SOS – from a friend, Marlise Karlin. But that said, I do not have a huge amount of time for searching for websites as my life creating films, books and doing conservation work with my husband Dereck takes up all of our time. Through the pandemic we have had to escalate our conservation initiatives and spend time preparing new websites for each campaign, so we’ve been creating many more websites ourselves.

My favourite app...


Is probably WhatsApp. As a communications tool, it is quick and easy. Staying connected today is so vital to sanity. I love that we can have group discussions when we are working in the conservation arena.



My favourite blog...


Probably the National Geographic blogs in general, as well as those from journalist Rachel Baile. Her pieces are accurate and current on all issues in the world today.

My Internet hero...


Many of the National Geographic’s Explorers at Large with whom we share our work: Sylvia Earle, Bob Ballard, Enric Sala, Lee Berger and many more. They are the real influencers who can possibly create change. National Geographic has an amazing platform for all environmentalists to take action and make an impact through their work. Dereck and I have used and appreciated it for over 40 years. Each has an internet presence despite a wide variety of ages, and disciplines.

My favourite podcast...


I found my favourite podcast while recovering in hospital for over two months after being attacked by a buffalo, which I fortunately survived! Dereck managed to rescue me from the buffalo, which had impaled me on its horn. Eighteen hours later, with twenty-seven broken bones and a huge amount of blood loss, Dereck flew me to the best emergency hospital. While undergoing five operations with seven surgeons watching over me, I found myself listening to What it Takes from NPR: great interviews with people that had overcome the impossible. Very inspirational, it certainly helped my frame of mind to continue my own recovery.

My favourite YouTuber...


If a YouTube piece is sent to me via email or WhatsApp, I will view it but I do not seek them out. Although we often find a scene from one of our films that has been posted on YouTube by someone who was amazed by the animals’ courage.



My most recent buy online...


Nothing glamourous at all: it was a light for all the Zoom calls Dereck and I are doing to raise funds for our new initiative, Project Ranger. With the pandemic, the bush meat trade has escalated. Increased snaring means that wildlife is being trapped and decimated right throughout Africa. It is imperative to keep the frontline workers in the field. The only way we can do this is to raise funds and pay for all the rangers who were furloughed during the twelve months of lockdown in Africa. Dereck has also bought cameras and lenses for me online recently.

Last book you downloaded or read...


21 Lessons For The 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.

Favourite tweeter...


We are so busy creating films, books, and all our campaigns that I do not follow anyone except the tweets that Dereck sends out about all the conservation concerns that come to us on a regular basis.

Favourite Instagrammer...


I love following the National Geographic photographers. It transports me around the world to all their powerful work and the major issues and concerns. It is so important to see if there is synergy in all our projects and how we can assist each other, especially our fellow Explorers at Large at the National Geographic.

Favourite tech gadget...


It is more of a necessity than a favourite for me, but my iPhone is probably the one tech gadget that goes everywhere on our travels. It becomes my computer and communicator – what would we do without them? Also love that I can quickly capture an image at any time.

The most useful gadget/item on your desk...


My desk is not always where I am, except during the pandemic. Normally we carry our computers with us while in the field, where Dereck and I do most of our filming and conservation work. But when at my desk, my iMac and Lacie hard drives are in use constantly. The programmes that I use the most are Adobe Bridge and Photoshop to edit all our wildlife images.



Most useful digital resource during lockdown...


Dereck and I had to cancel all the live speaking events for environmental film festivals and conservation symposia during the pandemic in 2020. We reverted to Zoom for speaking events; it felt at times we were living within a screen.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...


Instagram is a great visual snapshot that keeps everyone connected, inspired and interested in travelling, as opposed to the damage isolation can create.

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...


WhatsApp is quick and easy to start the day, although we are all probably addicted to this now. It is perhaps a little more gentle and less formal than emails. It is a way to receive highlights that I can respond to instantly, although always being connected to all the atrocities and tragedies that are happening around the world can certainly bring us down and create a form of post-traumatic stress in all of us who are fighting to protect our planet.

Last thing you binge-watched...


New Amsterdam on Netflix. After the traumatic experience both Dereck and I went through with the buffalo attack and spending so much time struggling for my own survival in the emergency ICU wards, we have found ourselves drawn to understand the medical world through this hospital drama. You would think we would shy away from the emotional stories, but I have found that they are cathartic and show the medical profession putting themselves on the front line for all humanity.



Favourite brand I've discovered online...


I don’t shop online, although Dereck does, so I am quite brand loyal in a kind of retro way. But we did discover my Frye boots online and always buy on this platform.

Social media allowed me to meet...


All the dedicated National Geographic people working to educate and create change for the future.

The best digital advice I've been given...


Think before hitting send.

My screensaver is...


Each day I open up my computer it is like a trip down memory lane with all the great lions, leopards and cheetah characters Dereck and I have filmed and photographed over a forty-year period. Our editor, Bridget, created a beautiful black-and-white collage of the top images. The collage is a great reminder of all the Big Cats we speak out to protect. We created the National Geographic Big Cat Initiative thirteen years ago and continue to be their voices to help preserve them in this crazy world we are living in.

My standout online memory...


Discovering that there was another Beverly Joubert pretending to be me. And a curio store in Namibia named after Legadema, the leopard character in Eye of the Leopard.

My pet online hate is...


Ads in YouTube music videos. And the fake news that is created by a negative sector on our planet, from the top down: presidents to corporate companies, all for their own gain and with little consideration of the consequences for the environment and humankind.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions?


I believe we all have to try and be more mindful on a daily basis, being in the moment. While filming in the field, I will not have any electronic communication devices distracting me. During the pandemic in lockdown my computer and iPhone are turned off at night to allow us to have a clear head for the next morning.

The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?


There is no doubt that is it a phenomenal tool, for research, for connecting and for unifying. But like all tools, from gun powder to locomotion, you can’t control whether it is used for good or evil. It’s just a tool and to those with good intentions, for example in our field, we can open up discussions on what is happening to the last remaining pristine areas, showing their vulnerability and how we can all assist to create positive change. That way, it’s a great advantage. It’s a platform, and like all soapboxes throughout history, it is used in all sorts of ways. Our challenge is to use it well, honestly and to educate the kids on ways to see through the opinion, propaganda, and clouds of lies, to seek the truth in it. So, ultimately, even its worst effects give us an opportunity to grow and aim for that future where we are the best versions of ourselves..

By Nancy Alsop
April 2021

READ MORE
David Yarrow
Alison Jackson
Evie Wyld

Nancy Alsop

Editor

Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.

FIND OUT MORE