This Ph.D. Student Live-Tweets Animal Life in the Serengeti
Ph.D. student Anne Hilborn wants to show you the world that traditional nature documentaries ignore. Instead of majestic slow-motion videos of predators hunting prey, Hilborn is interested in the mundane, unglamorous, and sometimes hilariously awkward behind-the-scenes lives of both field workers and animals.
Hilborn, who is currently studying the hunting strategies of cheetahs in the Serengeti, live-tweets her fieldwork, posting pictures of herself searching high grass for cheetah feces, lions lazily awaiting dinner, and hyenas mating awkwardly. One recent series of photos on her Twitter account captures a moment of pure slapstick, as a lion leaps for a zebra, only to slowly slide off its rear end, unable to get a grip. Another quintessentially 21st-century depiction of nature follows a few of the cheetahs she's studying, as their hunt is interrupted by tourists revving their trucks and snapping photos. The Atlantic calls her a “David Attenborough for the social-media age.”
In an interview with The Atlantic, Hilborn explained that her Twitter account was inspired in part by the boredom of waiting hours for cheetahs to poop, and in part by a desire to show people the less picturesque side of nature, including the occasional viciousness and incompetence of animals: “I grew up watching documentaries, but they gloss over that,” she explained.
Hilborn’s Twitter documents the Serengeti from all angles; it mirrors her own experience of sitting in a Land Rover watching things unfold over the course of many patient hours. “You can just watch ecology happen,” she told The Atlantic. “There are millions of large herbivores, six species of cats, hyenas, jackals … you can watch everything from grass and dung beetles, to lions and wildebeest.”
— Anne Hilborn (@AnneWHilborn) November 3, 2015