Profile: Vlogger Zhang Chenliang, providing a window on nature
HAIKOU, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Deep in a rainforest in south China's Hainan Province, Zhang Chenliang picks up a daddy longlegs -- a spiderlike insect -- presents it to the camera, and explains its features and living habits for the benefit of viewers on the short video platform Douyin.
Zhang, 34, is an influential vlogger with expertise in animals and plants, boasting over 22 million followers on Douyin.
His humorous expression and distinctive accent have further helped him build a career as one of the most influential creators of popular science content.
A WALKING ENCYCLOPEDIA
Born and raised in Beijing, Zhang has felt a deep love for nature since he was a child. What he enjoyed most was going to grandma's home in the countryside, where the fields were bursting with vegetables and reeds. These places were natural habitats for insects, which Zhang has always found intriguing.
During his bachelor's degree at Nanjing Agricultural University, Zhang studied an order of insects called Hemiptera, and also later for his master's degree at China Agricultural University.
In 2011, while working as an intern at Nature History magazine, he took charge of the magazine's official account on China's microblogging giant Weibo, which had about 20,000 fans at that time.
To make the account more appealing, Zhang actively interacted with the followers and answered their questions in a way that was both accessible and professional.
"There are many endemic species in our country, but few people know about them. I pay great attention to the interaction with fans, so I know what they want to know, and I can satisfy their curiosity," said Zhang.
Gradually, Zhang's influence grew and he accumulated a large number of die-hard fans.
After graduating from university in 2013, Zhang began working for Chinese National Geography magazine. In 2019, he registered his personal account on Douyin to popularize science relating to animals and plants, since which time he has become a big name in the field.
MAKING SCIENCE MORE POPULAR
With his influence growing, Zhang felt a pressing need to set up a team. In March 2021, a team with 10 people, all aged under 30, was established. The team registered several new accounts bearing the name of Chinese National Geography on popular video-sharing apps such as Douyin, Kuaishou and Bilibili.
"After we uploaded the first video on Bilibili, our followers surpassed 100,000 overnight," Zhang recalled.
Their first video introduced the daily routine of science researchers. Following their cameras, the audience embarked on a tour around the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"We have opened a window for everyone to understand nature and science, so that the public can feel that science can be very interesting," Zhang said.
Recently, Zhang and his team visited Hainan, Yunnan and various places rich in natural resources around the country in search of endemic species. With this footage, he hopes to make a documentary in his own style, which is easily understandable and accessible for the public.
After watching one of Zhang's videos, one young woman conducted her own nature field trip and subsequently applied to study at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with a view to becoming a biologist.
"It makes me feel that my work is worthwhile, and that what I've been doing is having a positive impact on young people," said Zhang.