Long-term Behavioral Observations on Big Cats of Africa – Beverly and Dereck Joubert / TED Talk (2010)

Short observations are relatively easy to capture and can be quite informative. On the other hand, long-term observations can be rather expensive and require dedication but enable recording of rare and unusual events. Beverly and Dereck Joubert are certainly one of the most successful long-term observers of our time. Events they capture on film are seemingly serendipitous. Such once in a life time events can only be recorded by being there on a long-term basis and require an almost unblinking stare at the subject.

It is quite common for explorers to get sucked into the vortex of adventure and sometimes the call of adventure may over ride scientific motives. This is important since adventure is almost a prerequisite for serendipity. However, pushing the limits at a cost of losing expensive equipment worth more than 2 million dollars is probably a bit excessive and difficult to justify.

Jouberts did a marvelous job of capturing events that are difficult to observe simply because they either take place at an unusual time of the day (night time attack on an elephant) or the event is extremely rare involving some unexpected extraordinary behavior (maternal instinct of a leopard towards a baby baboon).

Evolution of parental care as a behavior is a hot topic among ethologists. Observing maternal instinct beyond intraspecific (within species) boundaries is quite impressive and curious. The footage of unambiguous maternal behavior recorded by Jouberts is an outstanding piece of natural history. It will continue to inspire the ethologist within each of us. Among solitary cats leopards hold a special place among wildlife biologists because of its outstanding adaptive capabilities.

August 2013 issue of the National Geographic magazine published an informative map of lion territories in Serengeti National Park where river confluences and prey density are laid out.



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