Launching a two-month ‘Visions of Africa’ exhibition of Beverly Joubert’s fine art photographic prints, Beverly and Dereck brought the bush to the heart of London’s Regent Street last week. London’s very own red, double-decker game-viewing vehicles passed by the exhibition, complete with camera touting tourists snapping the intense stare of a leopard from the window display of the National Geographic Store.
In fact these same eyes of Legadema, looking out onto Regent Street, caught 1 in 4 passers-by to stop and look into her eyes; that’s perhaps 1 in 4 people who are less likely to kill a leopard and less likely to condone hunting. Legadema, when found by the Jouberts at just 8 days old, won their hearts and in many ways turned them from being filmmakers into advocates for big cats. She then won the hearts of millions through the Joubert’s film Eye of the Leopard and then again via Living with Big Cats. As an ambassador for the plight of big cats it is so nice to see Legadema working her magic for two months over the hustle and bustle of Regent Street, reminding those who view her that there is a more peaceful and unspoilt world out there.
A good mixture of media, dignitaries, travel trade, National Geographic Store customers, and guests who had stayed at Great Plains camps and lodges attended the special opening event at the National Geographic Store. Beverly and Dereck gave an impassioned talk of their work with big cats, of which there were many fabulous images all around the invited audience. They highlighted the plight of big cats around the world, introduced the Big Cats Initiative that they founded with the National Geographic Society and the work of Great Plains Conservation. Dereck explained that Great Plains Conservation does not operate in national parks, which should theoretically have the resources to protect the park and its wildlife, but instead operates in areas abutting these national parks and reserves, safeguarding land for wildlife which would otherwise come into conflict with human demands and pressures, working with the communities to both benefit people and wildlife alike.
A silent auction of one of Beverly’s images of the leopard Legadema and her mother, as featured in the feature film Eye of the Leopard, raised money for the Big Cats Initiative.
The exhibition coincided with the UK launch of two new National Geographic DVDs filmed by the Jouberts; Big Cat Odyssey featuring a documentary of the same name charting the Jouberts 30 years of big cat film making in Botswana, and Lions of Darkness a story of a growing lion pride and the challenges life and death presents. Living with Big Cats is narrated by Jeremy Irons and includes Eye of the Leopard, the story of a leopard’s survival from newborn to maturity, and Living with Big Cats, an intimate relationship between the Jouberts and Legadema, the endearing subject of Eye of the Leopard. A third DVD will be launched on the 14th August; Ultimate Enemies contains a trio of the Joubert’s iconic films. Ultimate Enemies documents a special pride of lions that have learned how to hunt elephants. Eternal Enemies documents lions and hyena battling over overlapping territories. Relentless Enemies filmed at Duba Plains shows lions hunting buffalo, and buffalo fighting back against the lions.
For all those of you who were there that evening we thank you for attending and for your support.
Images from the evening can be viewed here
‘Visions of Africa’ exhibition is at the National Geographic Store, Regent Street, London until 28th August 2011. Beverly’s prints are signed and for sale at the store.