National Geographic explorer Beverly Joubert almost died twice in the arms of her husband Dereck after being attacked by a buffalo – but has vowed to carry on working in the wild.
The conservationists who have diced with death multiple times – battling back from near-lethal snake bites, brakes failing on a plane and almost drowning while in a vehicle – were in Botswana when they faced their biggest challenge.
Dereck says: “Beverly almost died in my arms – twice.”
His wife adds: “We feel we were given a second chance, so all humanity could have a second chance to protect the planet.”
Recalling the terrifying moment, Beverly continues: “Out from the darkness came this enraged buffalo.
“Dereck went flying, cracked his pelvis and some ribs – but the buffalo impaled me and ran off with me.
“Eighteen seconds riding a buffalo changed our lives.
“Dereck managed to run after the buffalo, challenge it and get me off.
“Twenty-seven broken bones later, 11 hours on the ground bleeding out and 18 hours to get me to the emergency room in South Africa, the hospital called me their miracle.”
The 2017 attack came where the couple shot their Relentless Enemies, Big Cat Odyssey and Living With Big Cats films. Beverly continues: “I had a collapsed lung and shattered shoulder bone.
“The horn had gone under the armpit, through the chest, through the neck, lacerated the throat and ended up in my face. There were 21 bones broken within the cheek and my eye was cracked in three places and collapsed.
“But what was happening to us on that night is what the lionesses and lion prides have to deal with on a daily basis.”
The eight-time Emmy winners are speaking ahead of the screening of seven of their films as part of Nat Geo WILD’s upcoming Big Cat Week.
They warn that protecting big cats is essential to humanity.
Dereck says: “If we want to save the planet – and the creatures on it – we need to celebrate what they are.”
Beverly adds: “Life is precious and every creature is part of the biodiversity puzzle. We are increasing global warming because we are removing so many forests.
“What we’re doing with plastics in oceans is devastating. We are killing ourselves and we need to turn it around.”
The pair, who have made 40 films, have now done their first on cheetahs, the most threatened cats in the world with less than 7,000 left.
Dereck says: “Cheetahs are the fastest animals on the planet, running at 120km an hour. They get into that flow where nothing else matters.” Hollywood star Jeremy Irons provides the narration for the Jouberts’ films.
“Jeremy’s become a close friend and a dedicated big cat ambassador,” adds Dereck.
Due to the pandemic, the pair – founders of Great Plains Conservation, which manages wildlife reserves in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe – have been unable to carry out their usual field work.
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Instead their Project Ranger initiative helped furloughed rangers get back to work. Beverly, 65, says: “With tourism shut down and rangers not there, poaching has increased.”
Dereck, 66, adds: “It’s the longest time we’ve lived in concrete since high school as usually we lie looking at the stars every night. We’ve seen a 95% decline in lions, leopards, cheetahs, tigers, almost everything in our lifetime. Unless we do something quickly to reduce carbon emissions, we’re not going to make it through this.”
Six of their films have been remastered with one new one, The Way Of The Cheetah, airing on Wednesday.
It tells the story of Immani, mother to four new cubs as they strive to survive in the vast plains of the Mara.
Nat Geo WILD Big Cat Week starts on Monday.
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