Friday, May 13

The Trailblazers: Beverly and Dereck Joubert

Remember the couple I was alluding to in the previous posts?
Here they are, in all their glory.

They are filmmakers, photographers, writers and conservationists replete with numerous awards and recognition for their outstanding work. Currently working for National Geographic, the Jouberts specialize in the animals in Africa and operate out of Botswana, working the most with big cats. In turn, the two have founded The Big Cats Initiative:
which works through creating fences for livestock, educating the locals, and monitoring the predator management of the locals. They support local schools and parks as well!

I HIGHLY recommend watching their TedTalk video:

Learn more at:

The talent doesn't stop there; Beverly is known for her unique and spectacular photography:

Here is Legadema, their baby.

Recently, they launched their film The Last Lions and if you simply view the trailer online, National Geographic will donate 10 cents to The Big Cats Initiative.

"...Against all odds, she will rise once more..."

Among the most haunting of lines...I somehow feel that it doesn't just pertain to Ma Di Tau, the lioness of the film.

The Cove

Being a newbie to blogging, I unceremoniously deleted this post from a few weeks ago, so here it is again:

A few weeks ago I had the chance to see this lovely thriller/documentary (real interesting mix of genres here) called The Cove.


Remember Flipper? The mastermind behind the series is Ric O'Barry, world famous dolphin trainer of the five that starred in the series Flipper in 1964. O'
Barry made easy money, drove a Porsche, and did not care much for the animals he was working with at the time. Little did he know he would rethink his actions...and later commented on his previous ignorance:

"Humans breathe without even trying. It takes effort for dolphins have to breathe, to take every single breath. I saw Kathy...she was really depressed... You have to understand dolphins and whales are not [involuntary] air breathers like we are. Every breath they take is a conscious effort. They can end their life whenever. She swam into my arms and looked me right in the eye, took a breath and didn't take another one. I let her go and she sank straight down on her belly to the bottom of the tank."

Kathy was one of the five dolphins working in Flipper and died; O'Barry claims that she committed suicide, a fact heavily disputed by scientists, psychologists, and animal conservationists. Ric O'Barry worked with these animals everyday for years; he
personally trained the five on Flipper, and worked most intensively with Kathy.

It wasn't until then that O'Barry saw the consequences of his actions; he had single-handedly and unwittingly created an industry that had dire consequences for dolphins, and the ecosystems of the sea.

After setting free dolphins (even getting arrested by taking two dolphins from Sugarloaf Dolphin Sanctuary and freeing them), and becoming permanently banned from The International Whaling Commission, O'Barry teamed up with The Oceanic Preservation Society, National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos, special effects designers from Industrial Light and Magic (George Lucas's own special effects company!), and world champion free-diver and record-holder Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, and several adventure-seeking guys, they set off to Taiji, Japan to crack open a twisted way of life where 23,000 dolphins and whales are killed by means of primitive weapons- spears and knives.

Using night vision goggles, infrared recorders, and special cameras from National Geographic, Mandy was able to place cameras underwater and several others placed cameras in areas the Japanese did NOT want them to see (covertly done by asking the Japanese which places to avoid, and asking to keep the map "just to make sure where to stay out" WELL DONE).

After harvesting the tapes, the crew were completely unprepared for this:

Trainers pick the dolphins they want and the rest that get scared into the cove are brutally slaughtered by spears. The waters in the cove haunt in red- it really is a dolphin's worst nightmare. How long do you think this can last?

I don't want to spoil everything, but even if you are not much for animals this is definitely one of the most exciting and triumphant films I have ever seen. It has a satisfying feel but at the same time sends out an admirable message that the battle is not over.

Dolphins have unrivaled intelligence and are one of the few species that possess self-awareness. To think that people can treat them in such a manner really sets a new low point in humanity for me.

I highly recommend watching this movie; I don't think I have been moved this much since watching Million Dollar Baby.

Monday, May 2

Just Myself....

I desperately failed my Earth Week vow to blog once a day.

I blame it on hell week, the week most notoriously known for triple and quadruple tests that you study for and still miserably fail well, because it's Tech...and because of some serious April storms and showers.

Now, while my mind was wondering around studying for real, I toyed around with the idea of Botswana and partaking in the conservation movement, if only for 3-4 weeks during December and possibly going to a reserve to take care of them. Now if I could only become contacts with Beverly and Dereck Joubert, whose work and personalities I have come to adore and cherish! I will get to them in a later post, I can't possibly do them the justice they deserve in this one.

Roundtrip tickets to Botswana: $3000.
Hotel + food: $500 for the duration of my stay.
Miscellaneous costs: $100, and I'm trying to be really sparse.

...I guess you could call this a once-in-a-lifetime dream come true, although medical school may or may not be tied, if not the first place. I'll have to struggle with that myself over the next year or so and choose where my career goes; I adore animals, animal conservation, biology, medicine, philanthropy, environmental engineering, food, and the green movement. Where to go from there? Doctorate in medicine, Ph.D. in biology (Cornell is the ideal school, and I saw Ph.D. in biology and environmental engineering...definitely a contender!), maybe a melange of them all?

A little side story: A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of going up to the Smokey Mountains with a few friends to enjoy the scenery and what little wildlife I saw (the neon blue lichen was indeed fascinating) in a mere 3 hours. We went to a BBQ place, no escaping it as everyone planned it as part of the trip, and everyone ordered the ribs and catfish.

GROAN. "Animals were made for eating!"
A long grimace later and trying not to burst out in consternation, I was so proud of myself for keeping quiet. Even though the ribs/catfish were all you can eat, I held back and stuffed myself silly with the sides first. I wouldn't call this triumphant at all in any fashion, but I'm slowly getting there. Slowly trying to become more vegetarian. Slowly eliminating meat everyday to just once a week, and imbibing on vegetables. They actually taste great! (I'm not kidding you, they have flavors that burst if you pick, cook, and season them right!)

I think I've come a long way, from eating meat 2-3 times a day to once a day, to 2-3 a 7-day week. But there's a longer way to go- 100% vegetarian. Somehow I don't believe I'll be able to fully become a vegetarian because so much of my culture revolves around an insane amount of meat/fat, my relatives would take direct insult...and the fact that the majority of the only vegetarians around are Buddhist monks. One step at a time! Slowly convincing everyone that it's ok to be veg-o.

Now listening to:
Aruarian Dance - Nujabes