By Nick Vadala
First, it was the sharks. They came to Twitter via Australia, with researchers hoping to warn their fellow Aussies when to turn tail and jet out of the water as our toothy friends get close to shore. Now, Loxodonta Africana—the increasingly rare African Elephant—is getting a trunk up in the virtual world.
Conservation organization Space for Giants recently began tweeting African Elephant movements in Laikipia, Kenya in a concerted effort to raise awareness about the grey giants’ plight. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that the little guys enormous animals are, in fact, as adorable as the day is long:
“An organization called Space for Giants has tagged four bull elephants in Laikipia, Kenya, and is following the creatures' movements on Twitter using the hashtag #ElephantsLive. Evgeny, Tyson, Carlos, and Kimani have GPS collars that allow scouts to keep an eye on them and report their daily movements on Twitter. The organization has previously used GPS to visualize the roaming patterns of elephants in the same area, and they hope this project will help educate people about elephant behavior and provide insights about how these elephants travel and interact with their environments.”
Space for Giants employee Diane Vollmerhausen controls the tweets, which come to her from a worker in Kenya who updates her on the herds’ movements. In order to deter poaching, Space for Giants employs a 48-second gap between getting reports and tweeting them. After all, poaching is one of the greatest challenges African Elephants face today:
“Vollmerhausen emphasized the project's goal to raise awareness about elephant poaching. ‘At present around 100 African elephants are being killed illegally for the ivory every day,’ she says. ‘The tweets are factual in nature including their movement but also personal traits that we have picked up following them over time. It's amazing trying to put yourself into the head of an elephant, they all have their very own personalities!’”
The result is uplifting, adorable tweets that’ll have you hooked on your favorite new, grey friends. Perhaps it’s the personification in the form of cheery dialogue:
Morning! I'm Evgeny. They think I'm around 30 yrs old. Look forward to showing you around Laikipia via #ElephantsLive
2:50 AM - 15 Jan 2014
And, to be sure, don’t expect a lack of updates any time soon. After all, an elephant never forgets (to keep a relevant social media presence).