UK pubcaster Channel 4 is lining up Hippo: Wild Feast Live, a live streaming natural history event which will see a decomposing hippo carcass being devoured by predators such as hyenas and crocodiles.
Streamed on Channel4.com, the broadcaster says it will use a host of cutting edge technology to bring the African savannah “straight to the desktop, classroom and lounge.”
Fixed-camera rigs, motion detectors, infra-red cameras, laser thermometers, digital microscopes and electronic tracking systems – including micro-transmitters – “will connect natural history aficionados with all the predators, scavengers, birds and insects that feast on the hippo.”
The network added: “The hippo carcass will be located in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley by a section of the Luangwa river frequented by a range of predators and scavengers including leopards, lions, Nile crocodiles, hyena, wild dogs, baboons, monitor lizards and marabou storks – known as the ‘undertaker birds’ which use their 10-foot wingspan to swoop down and see off other smaller vultures.”
The event will be streamed live online beginning today (October 21), with a final 1 x 90 minute program airing on TV on November 7 at 9 p.m. GMT.
There will also be a series of two-minute live TV updates on location, presented by Mark Evans (Inside Nature’s Giants, Brave New World), on Channel 4 each evening from October 21-26. The live streaming will be an interactive experience with viewers encouraged to tweet questions to Evans.
Channel 4′s specialist factual commissioning editor Tanya Shaw said: “This interactive project builds on the success of Elephant: Life After Death, which followed a five-tonne elephant being transformed into six million calories worth of fat, meat and guts, feeding a whole new cycle of life.
“This time, by streaming the action live, we are dealing with wildlife at its most raw, bloody and immediate – it will be fascinating to see how events unfold, and we want viewers to interact with the experts and share this unique content with their friends.”
Hippo: The Wild Feast is being produced by Endemol-owned Tigress Productions (Elephant: Life After Death). Dick Colthurst is executive producer, Sarah Peat is producer and Jonny Young is director.
In a statement, Evans said: “The river is a prime location for some of the biggest predators in Zambia – we may well see fierce showdowns between rivals for these vital calories – from Nile crocodiles and lions to hyenas and the notoriously vicious honey badger.
“The eating mechanisms of the different animals is fascinating – from crocodiles who use each other as leverage for a ‘death roll’ to twist off the meat – to marabou storks who gulp down pounds of flesh which they store in their gullets.”