JULY 2013 BACK ISSUE "Nature is so obviously beautiful that photographing it seems so easy initially. In many ways I have to fight that perception and work harder to find a meaningful story behind the picturesque image and tell it in a stolen moment. I may be setting up the right light or waiting for the action to unfold, but I find myself preying on these precious moments; a look in a leopard's eye, that instant when she recognizes that she can actually make the kill, or the way a leopard moves as she quickly plots out her footing to leap up a tree. It's the soul of an elephant or a predator, doing what it was born to do 3 million years ago, that is quite suddenly revealed in something that it does. These are the moments that I find myself stalking and in doing so I transcend and travel inside myself and inside them. I often become so in tune with their individual characters that I can predict their decisions and behavior.  It feels like a blend of excitement and meditation all in one. My work is often about getting the observer to care deeply about the species I am portraying and their future, particularly with big cats.  I want to move the viewer so much that they will want to do something about the ever- increasing threat to these wild animals. I always hope to capture an image that says: "whoever took this understands, and has seen inside this animal, and they can lead us there." Sometimes it's just me having fun." Beverly Joubert 'Swamp Cats of Botswana' - Despite the fact that most lions detest water, the prides on Duba Island in the Okavango Delta have adapted to the water and even use it to their advantage. Buffalo are slower in water and the lionesses have learnt to ambush the herd at the various crossing points. 'Baobab Queen' - A leopard lying in the warm embrace of an ancient Baobab tree.  'Lioness of Lace Mist and Finery' - A Lioness peers through the tall swamp grasses at dusk. She is partially hidden in the swirl of dust kicked up during her attempted hunt on Duba Plains in Botswana. 'Dance of the Stallions' - Zebra stallions fight to protect their harem and keep their status of dominance. 'Eye of the Leopard' - Leopard in camouflage. Leopards need to be elusive and secretive and often stay hidden in the undergrowth to avoid predators, including man. 'Ambush from the Air' - A Lioness charges into a buffalo herd creating utter chaos. These moments are so special to capture as there are few places left in the world where natural behavior can take place. 'Adrenalin' - A lion charges through the water intent on catching a buffalo as the herd crosses a river. This image really embodies the true essence of lions at their very best.  They display such incredible speed and strength during the hunt and are so focused that they conquer their fear of water. 'Dust of Confusion' - At dawn two lionesses look for the rest of the pride after a failed buffalo hunt.  They are surrounded by dust that the herd created while defending themselves during the pursuit. If we can't protect our wild lions whole eco-systems will collapse. 'In Sync' - Legadema and her mother patrol their territory. It was amazing how often the mother and daughter were perfectly in sync. The beauty of a leopard fur is often their demise.  Luckily Legadema and her mother live in a protected nature reserve in Botswana, but there are thousands that are vulnerable and poached incessantly.  When you get to know their characters as we have, you quickly realize their fur is not their most beautiful asset. 'Eyes like Honey' - Eyes that never miss any opportunity.  Legadema is swift, observant and very intelligent. Her seemingly compassionate eyes have touched many people around the world, and yet still today these endangered animals are often seen to be worth more dead than alive. 'Legadema Portrait' -We have known Legadema since she was a cub. In this image she is 4 years old and fully matured. Part of the reward of our long duration film projects is to have the opportunity to get to know the animals thoroughly. 'Master of the Water' - An old elephant bull with exceptional ivory, (which is becoming an exception today), drinking at a waterhole. The rest of the bulls gave him enormous respect due to his size and age. 'Saber Tusks' - Large elephant bulls defend themselves at the last remaining water in the lava forest of Ol Donyo in Kenya, a rare safe haven for elephants. 'Space' - Three giraffes at dusk observing wildebeest as they migrate across the land in Kenya. Vast tracks of wilderness are becoming increasing threatened. 'March in the Clouds' - An elephant herd moves across the dry land towards the water. The clouds always bring hope of heavy rains in Amboseli.  Draughts used to be the elephant's greatest threat, but now with an increase in poaching, it is man's greed that decimates their numbers. 'Journey' - Giraffe glide over the Amboseli landscape in the late afternoon. For one moment I felt like they were walking on glass as a mirage was created through the heat haze. 'Migration Patterns' - A white zebra stallion calls to his harem next to a migrating wildebeest herd.  The strips of the zebra are a stark contract against the dense pattern of dark bodies and horns. 'Splash' - Adrenalin-filled wildebeest plunge into the Mara River trying to beat the odds and make it to the other side without a crocodile attack. 'Skies of Hope' - The blue skies with an early formation of clouds almost brings a respite to the dry land in Amboseli. Seeing such a large breeding herd of elephants so relaxed brings us hope that man can live side by side with these wild animals in peace.  As long as we can stop the senseless killing of elephants for their ivory, there is hope. Beverly on Instagram Follow Dereck and Beverly on Twitter @dereckbeverly Image of Beverly Joubert kindly provided by Florian Wagner
by Beverly Joubert Back to current issue