2 weeks, 84 organisations, 122 countries…
What is the World’s Favourite Unloved Species?
We asked over 80 conservation organisations from around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be unloved and underappreciated, and often overshadowed by the more cute, handsome and (seemingly) interesting members of the natural world. Each conservation organisation wrote a to let you know why their nominee deserved your vote, and to help raise awareness of the weird and wonderful species that they had chosen.
After two weeks of voting, campaigning and deliberating, we received nearly 6500 votes from 122 different countries, and we are extremely pleased to be able to announce the world’s favourite unloved species!
Here are a few clues to the winning species:
It is one of the largest of its kind…
It is a mammal that can fly…
It is named after its facial lookalike…
What is the No.1 World’s Favourite Unloved Species?
The grey-headed flying fox flew ahead from the start of the voting period, and it stole a huge 11.5 percent of the total vote. This species is is Australia's only endemic flying fox and one of the largest bats in the world. It is able to travel long distances for food, which makes them vital for pollination and thus the reproduction, regeneration and evolution of forest ecosystems that occur throughout its range.
The sloth bear is a very unique species, with its dishevelled, dull, shaggy coat that regularly has grass or leaves clinging to it rather than the sleek, shiny coat that other bear species possess. It feeds on termites and other insects, which it sucks up through the space where its two upper front teeth are absent.
Pangolins are extremely unique, being the world's only truly scaly mammal. They have extraordinary behaviours which include curling up into a ball when threatened, scooping up ants and termites with their improbably long, sticky tongues and carrying pups on their tail. Unfortunately they also hold the title for being the world's most illegally traded mammal, with their scales being highly prized for Traditional Chinese Medicine and meat considered a delicacy in many Asian countries.
The African wild dog is one of the world’s most social and distinctive wild dog species. Also known as the 'painted dog' due to its unique yellow, grey, black and white coat, the African wild dog has a very unusual social system where all individuals of the same sex are related, but not to individuals of the opposite sex, and only the dominant male and female will breed.
The highly unique Titicaca water frog has a broad, flattened head, round snout and large eyes, and multiple folds in its skin which allow it to breathe underwater without having to surface for air. Found in just one lake on the border between Peru and Bolivia, the Titicaca water frog is threatened by overcollection for human consumption.
The harbour porpoise can be immediately identified due to its low triangular dorsal fin and its lack of a beak. It has a small, plump body with a dark grey to bluish back, a pale belly and a rounded head.
The mountain chicken is one of the most endangered frogs in the world and also one of the largest frogs in the Americas. The colouration of mountain chickens is highly variable and individuals have been found with uniform chestnut-brown upperparts, as well as with barred or spotted patterns, and contrasting orange yellow sides. It has a very unique breeding system, with a very high degree of parental care which makes it more like a bird than a frog, living up to its common name.
The large flying fox is one of the biggest bats in the world and is found in coastal regions throughout South East Asia. In many countries within its range, the large flying fox is hunted for food and sport and it is also killed by farmers who consider it to be an agricultural pest.
The conspicuous indent at the front of the head, and a specialised fin beneath the head divided into two short rounded lobes, give the cownose ray a very friendly, smiley appearance and make it one of the most easily identifiable rays. Like other rays, it has a disc-like body with large, broad pectoral fins forming long, pointed wing-like structures along either side. The cownose ray inhabits the warm temperate and tropical waters of the western Atlantic up to depths of 22 metres.
The grey long-eared bat is one of Britain's rarest mammals. This species has strikingly long ears and a grey coat with a pale belly. Across Europe, the grey long-eared bat is widespread and fairly abundant in the south, but is rare in the north, and although it has probably always been rare several British populations have become extinct in the last 30 years