60 Minutes: Lion Kings
Dereck and Beverly Joubert have devoted their lives to filming and studying lions in the wild. Their discoveries have resulted in over 20 years, in partnership with National Geographic. They live in Botswana, and they spend most of their time without seeing other humans. Instead, they are surrounded by lions.
60 Minutes: Dereck & Beverly Joubert
The Jouberts set out to tell the untold stories of the animals themselves. In a remote part of Africa, Lara Logan and her team met the Jouberts in the Okavango Delta, “one of the last untouched places on earth."
Nature is still the order of the land in this area, and the couple has spent thousands of hours with lions over the years. Dereck writes scripts and films, while Beverly takes still photographs and records sound.
Their movies can take years to make. Ma Di Tau, a lioness, was followed for seven years in the film The Last Lions, in which she struggled to raise her three cubs alone. One thing is undeniable: baby lions are ADORABLE.
60 Minutes: Lioness Ma Di Tau
“We can never predict what is going to happen," Beverly said. One of the cubs was taken by a crocodile, while another was gravely wounded by a stampede. Ma Di Tau had to struggle with the fact that her child’s back was broken, and she had to leave it behind. The heartbreaking moment was rough for the documentarians.
A bridge on which they routinely travel is partially submerged and is known for being associated with crocodiles. The pair has lost three vehicles through the years, which can be a serious setback in their work.
60 Minutes: Lions Natural Behavior
But their work is memorable, even as they are completely exposed to the elements and the animals. Lions have charged them on occasion, but they have never been scratched or injured. Those moments are dramatic, but the couple strives to avoid influencing the lions’ natural behavior.
Given how immersed in the wild Dereck and Beverly are, it seems impossible that they would not have some type of impact on this environment and the animals’ behavior. The two of them have been telling stories together since their 20s, and an early project focused on lions’ nocturnal behavior. That spanned 15 years and taught scientists a lot about lions as predators.
Much to everyone’s surprise, hyenas were often killing prey, and lions would come behind to scavenge for leftovers, not the other way around. This knowledge even inspired producers of Disney’s The Lion King.
60 Minutes: Lions Attack Elephant
In another shocking discovery, the night vision cameras caught a pride of lions attacking an adult elephant. Beverly said that she ended up rooting for the elephant to make it through the attack.
“Death begins in the eyes," Dereck said, a lesson he said he had learned from animals over the years. The elephant ended up surviving the attack, improbably.
They have a tent home in the middle of nowhere, looking out at the sprawling delta. They live in a large, roomy tent that does have some bathroom accommodations.
60 Minutes: What Are Super Lions?
The couple has been together for 36 years, and they spend most of their lives side by side, documenting majestic animals in paradise. Their knowledge about lions, including “super lions" who hunt in water, and the constant promise of new discoveries, has kept them going.
Some lions have adapted to live and fight in the water, and they grew as much as 15% larger. In other projects, they followed a leopard who took in a baby baboon as its own child.
Dereck said that scientists are sometimes reluctant to accept their shocking discoveries. Now, the couple is working with the National Geographic Society on the Big Cats Initiative. Their urgency is based on the dwindling population of lions after millions of years.
60 Minutes: Ma De Tau Update
The Jouberts have returned to the story of Mai De Tau to follow up on the life of her one surviving cub. It has been two years since they had seen him during their 60 Minutes profile. Conveniently, they encountered the very cub they had thought was lost to nature.
Lions can be identified by the pattern of their whiskers, which is similar to a fingerprint. The couple compared this sighting to a family reunion. I love lions, you guys, but I would be terrified to be surrounded by them in an open Jeep on their home turf.
As for the Jouberts, they plan to spend the rest of their lives in the wilds of Africa, following the animals they love.