What do a supermodel and a pioneering filmmaker have in common? A profound love—and a vision—for Africa’s wildlife.
African conservation has a brand-new ambassador: model Behati Prinsloo, who earlier this year signed up as spokesperson for Save the Rhino Trust Namibia. Prinsloo, who grew up in Namibia, flew back to her homeland in May—leaving her husband, the musician Adam Levine, and their two young daughters behind in L.A.—to witness SRT’s work tracking and monitoring rhinos in the wild. It’s territory familiar to Dereck Joubert, the South African filmmaker and driving force behind pioneering projects like Rhinos Without Borders and the Big Cats Initiative. Together with his wife, Beverly, Joubert invites guests to experience conservation in action at their ever-expanding portfolio of Great Plains Conservation lodges in Botswana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
Behati, how did you get involved with Save the Rhino Trust?
BEHATI PRINSLOO: I’m from Namibia, so conservation has always been a passion. Then, when I had my two kids, it all just fell into place. I realized that I could use the platform I’ve made for myself through modeling to do something good.
DERECK JOUBERT: Our work is becoming more and more urgent. We are engaged in a battle for African wildlife—for rhinos in particular, but also for elephants and big cats. And that’s why people like you, Behati, using your background and becoming an ambassador is so important.
What are your earliest memories of being out in the wilderness?
BP: My dad is very adventurous. He would drive me and my mom all over Namibia. We’d go off for days and days, take our own water, gas, everything. I remember feeling so connected to nature—and so vulnerable. My favorite thing would be to sit and watch a water hole at night and see all the different animals come to drink. Rhinos are normally very solitary, but there you’d see two moms with calves meet and interact with each other. It was a powerful experience.
DJ: These species are the heart and soul of Africa. They are what anybody from Africa grew up around. But I’m finding a lot of people, a lot of kids, in particular, divorcing themselves from nature because they’re just not exposed to it anymore.
BH: When I was in Namibia, the Save the Rhino Trust trackers told me that some of their kids have never even seen a rhino. That really got to me.
DJ: Many indigenous groups have names that directly relate to animals—the Ingonyama use the lion as their totem, for instance, and the Tshukudu use the white rhino. Today, many never see their totem animal, or even know what its name means. So protecting wildlife is also about making sure that those threads of connectivity reach down into the community and get passed forward.
BP: It was cool to see how SRT is really trying to get the community involved, and say, “These are our animals, and we have to save them.” Local people, conservation groups, and ambassadors like us all need to band together.