The Last Lions

Synopsis: Fifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have virtually no protection under government mandate or through international accords. This is the jumping-off point for a disturbing, well-researched and beautifully made cri de coeur from husband and wife team Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who have been Explorers-in-Residence at National Geographic for more than four years. Pointing to poaching as a primary threat while noting the lion's pride of place on the list for eco-tourists-an industry that brings in 200 billion dollars per year worldwide-the Jouberts build a solid case for both the moral duty we have to protect lions (as well as other threatened "big cats," tigers among them) and the economic sense such protection would make. And when one takes into account the fact that big cats are at the very top of the food chai
Director(s): Dereck Joubert
Actors: Jeremy Irons
Production: National Geographic Entertainment
  2 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
88 min

The night skies

were once filled with stars.

Today our own lights

eclipse the darkness

and spread steadily each day.

Slowly, the dark places in

Africa become the last refuge

for one of our planet's

most iconic animals.

Fifty years ago

And today there may be

as few as 20,000.

And yet,

in these remote places,

some of the most dramatic

stories on Earth are played out.

They are harsh,

sometimes violent,

never malicious,

and always real.

This is a story

of some of the last

wild lions on Earth.

Here in a small pocket

of this darkness,

our story begins.

It is an old saga of life

lived by tooth and claw.

A lioness

in perfect condition.

It's unusual for a lioness

to be without a pride,

but she's not alone.

She has a mate -

her companion and protector,

and the father of her cubs.

The beginnings

of a new pride

for this unspoiled land

deep in Botswana.

Tonight the bush is uneasy.

The distant calls

they've been hearing

for some time

are getting closer.

It puts them on edge.


And they suddenly materialize.

Lions from the north,

forced here by the relentless

encroachment of man.

They're ready to risk everything

to win new territory.

Her male has

no choice but to fight.

It's a battle that could change

the bloodlines here forever.

The invaders with

a clear determination

to win and to stay.

When she finally

emerges from hiding,

her shoulder almost healed,

she is ready

to pick up her life.

She starts by trying

to find her mate.

Every sound makes her freeze.

Every breath of air

brings unfamiliar scents.

Until she finds him,

she is a fugitive

in her own land.

By now her mate

has had weeks to recover.

He should be

answering her calls.

His wounds are too severe.

His spirit

has gone out of him.

He has become old,

damaged, broken.

His reign is over.

There are new rulers now.

To survive here,

she will have to submit

to these new masters.

But until the newcomers

detect her presence,

she still has a choice.

The swirling air carries a hint

of her unfamiliar scent.

The hunt begins.

She decides to leave...

to leave immediately.

For she has a secret -

all that is left

from her old life...

A secret that

must be protected.

This will be her life now...

To secure

the survival of her cubs.

With the males behind her,

back-tracking is impossible.

The females

of the marauding pride,

blocking her escape

to the west.

The leader will remember

the violent night they last met

as vividly as she does.

The night she was left

battered and bitten,

bleeding to death...

But she, in turn,

left the largest of them

with one eye blinded for life.

It's a wound the silver-eyed

leader of the pride

will never forget.

They can smell her tracks.

The storm ignites the bush

and she is trapped.

Now she must choose:

north towards

the villages and people,

or south along the fireline

to an even more

daunting obstacle for her...

The swollen river.

In this part of Africa,

a mother is named

after her first-born

as its protector.

He was always just a little

smaller than the other two,

slower, prone to getting lost.

Today Ma di Tau,

Mother of lions,

earns her name

as protector of her young.

As the smallest,

he must get used to being

constantly bullied.

It will either build him up,

or wear him out.

Ma di Tau knows the pride

will be coming after her,

but what lies ahead

is terrifying.

Lions detest deep, open water.

It hides things

that seem unnatural to them.

But the options behind

are worse.

If she stays to fight, the male

lions will kill her cubs.

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    "The Last Lions" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 22 Oct. 2021. <>.

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