National Geographic’s Wild Big Cat Month started on Sunday, February 3, with a special production from local film couple, Dereck and Beverly Joubert.
Every year the channel shines a light on these majestic creatures to remind people of their struggle and their importance in our world.
The duo’s newest documentary, Birth of a Pride followed the extraordinary journey of lions returning to a reserve in Botswana as they grow from a single female and her cub into a fully formed, majestic hunting pride.
“It documentary happened very organically, as we had already been documenting these animals from the start. And we realised that we had enough information and footage to make a film,” said Dereck.
He said that the documentary was a success story of the fierce felines, but is also immensely emotional and will tug at the viewer’s heartstrings.
“We’ve followed the lives of these animals for years and years, and although we are very close to them, we also know that we need to maintain our distance and not interfere, and viewers will specifically see this in a scene on the documentary, when the lions try to cross the river and the cubs are left behind,” Dereck said.
Dereck and Beverly - who have been a part of this conservation project with National Geographic said they have had remarkable success.
“The aim of this and all our other projects is to make people aware of the dangers these cats face. There was once 420 000 cats and currently, we are sitting at only 20 000, this is a huge decline. But with the documentary airing people can immerse themselves in the lives of these animals and see what trials and tribulations they have and feel their pain. There’s a huge education factor in it,” said Beverly.
The couple said they felt huge excitement in having their documentary featured first.
“We’re excited. We hope viewers can appreciate and celebrate this animal with us,” Beverly said.
The other four episodes on National Geographic will feature surprising behaviours and inspiring stories of big cats around the world, this includes, Tree Climbing Lions, Leopard Kingdom, Leopard Huntress, Clash of the Tigers, Man vs Puma, Regime of the Queen.
More than a television event, Big Cat Month is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment by the National Geographic Society to halt the decline of big cats in the wild.
This global programme actively supports on-the-ground research and conservation projects to protect the planet’s top felines.
*Birth of a Pride will be rescreened on February 10 at 8.25am on National Geographic.IOL