Monday, April 4, 2011

The Last Lions (Rhoades)

“The Last Lions” Don’t Have to Be Last
 Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My old friend Sid used to be in charge of making National Geographic films. He looked the part of an explorer, with steely eyes, thinning hair, a wide-bodied stance, even a khaki shirt with epaulets. But fact is, he wasn’t the one canoeing up the Amazon or prowling across the African veldt. He sent out camera teams, people expert in nature photography, professional explorers.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert are such a team. While Sid has long since retired, National Geographic Society keeps producing films that bring our world closer to us – on TV and in movie theaters.
Such a National Geographic documentary is “The Last Lions,” roaring onto the screen this week at the Tropic Cinema. The Jouberts videotaped and directed this big cat film.
It’s mindful of a couple of other Nat Geo productions, such as “India: Land of the Tiger” and “Eye of the Leopard.” As a matter of fact, Jeremy Irons narrated both the leopard film and “The Last Lions.”
The film’s title bespeaks of the fact that over the past 50 years the numbers of these magnificent beasts have dropped from 450,000 to a mere 20,000. The purpose of this lushly produced doc is to call attention to this startling decline.
“The Last Lions” focuses on a particular lioness named Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”). The cameras follow her as she battles to protect her cubs against threats to their survival. Ma di Tau and her cubs are among the last lions in Botswana.
Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers who have been exploring in Africa for over 28 years. Their coverage of jungle predators has resulted in 22 films, 10 books, 6 scientific papers, and numerous articles in National Geographic magazine. They have been National Geographic explorers-in-residence for over four years now.
With National Geographic’s help, the Jouberts established the Big Cats Initiative, a program designed to draw the world’s attention to the decline in lion numbers. Their mission has been recognized with five Emmys, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and induction into the American Academy of Achievement. Recently they were awarded the Presidential Order of Merit by the government of Botswana for their life’s work.
“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe.”
As an effort to promote viewing of “The Last Cats,” National Geographic has created a sweepstakes where you could win an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip for two to the lush jungles of Botswana, Africa. (Go to to enter.)
Bring along your video camera. You could become the next wildlife filmmaker stalking big cats for the National Geographic Society.
[from Solares Hill]

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