Say hello to award-winning wildlife filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Dereck Joubert. Alongside his wife, Beverly, he’s been researching and exploring Africa for over 30 years. We caught up with him to chat conservation and the future of travel.
Not only is conservationist Dereck Joubert an award-winning wildlife filmmaker, he and wife Beverly are also the founder of the Big Cats Initiative and Great Plains Conservation; few have done more to protect the African wilderness. We caught up with Dereck in advance of his appearance at The Regenerative Travel Summit to talk about responsible tourism, regenerative travel and the importance of conservation.
What inspired you to pursue the path of conservation at the start of your career?
I was born in Africa so growing up felt that tug of the DNA in me as being of Africa, but in some way isolated from its real wisdom, values and guidance as a continent. So as soon as I could, I left the city and went to find the real Africa. Since then, with Beverly, we’ve developed a deep understanding of what Africa is and where, sadly, it is being torn apart. The result was a commitment to daily do what we can to fix it and to protect it fiercely.
Over the years since opening Great Plains, have you noticed your guests becoming more environmentally aware/conscious?
I think everyone in the world is more aware now, and our guests, in particular, choose us because of what we stand for. We don’t agree with hunting or with killing wildlife. We invest in sustainable energy and clean air, and fair trade…all the things that are becoming more desirable across the globe.
How have you successfully implemented responsible tourism and sustainability into your business?
We have as our credo and core mission responsible tourism and have so many initiatives to demonstrate that. But our race is against ourselves in a philosophy of being the best versions of ourselves and adjusting daily.
What does regenerative tourism mean to you?
For me, it is in our Great Plains SLOW safari offering where we just slow down, stop this maddening rush, take deep breaths, spend time with a cheetah, throw away your checklists and early morning wake up calls and regenerate your life. It is however also about nurturing positive relationships between nature, our communities on a meaningful basis, and travellers.
Do you think people’s attitudes towards travel will change post-pandemic?
Yes and so they should. I think safety will be important so people will want to travel in a bubble as much as possible. We’re suggesting longer stays, as families, in one or two camps, not this endless jumping from one camp to the next, on a plane packing and unpacking etc. I’ve been with people where, as they arrive, they want to know when they leave! That will change. Quality over quantity.
What do you hope the future of travel will look like?
Mass tourism will be diminished. Quality will thrice. Families will want to be safe and travel together more. People will want to work from their camps and stay in touch with family not travelling with them more. I think that fear will drive many people to not travel. And quality and experiences in life will drive others to travel less but travel with meaning. I hope that people will think twice about hopping on a plane to do some retail therapy in Paris for a weekend from New York. But rather go to Paris for ten days to write or walk the streets and meet people, or do charity work. Similarly in Africa, come knowing that your travel is important and life-changing but beneficial to communities here.
If there is one thing you wished people understood about climate change, what would it be?
We just spoke about the ending to a film we just did where our editor used a Metallica song over the images of a final scene, where a puma comes to a sudden stop at a fence. I used words from that song “Nothing else matters.” And I can use it here, with regard to climate change. It’s real, you can’t deny it any longer, and in context to species declining, and pollution, when it comes to Climate Change as a threat to us all, ‘nothing else matters.’
Hear more from Dereck Joubert at The Regenerative Travel Summit, taking place from 23 – 25 September 2020. The three-day event aimed at the public, media, trade, and hoteliers will gather experts in their fields to explore the future of travel. From how tourism can help rebuild for a more positive post-pandemic reality to how regeneration can help reverse climate change. Best of all, it’s free! Find out more and sign up here.
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