2 weeks, 84 organisations, 122 countries…

What is the World’s Favourite Unloved Species?

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What’s 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?

Find out now »

No.1 Grey-headed flying fox

Grey-headed flying fox

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.

Nominated by:

Wildlife Land Trust

Grey-headed flying fox facts

  • The grey-headed flying fox is one of the largest bats in Australia, with a wingspan of over 1.5 metres
  • This species travels up to 50 kilometres to feeding areas every day
  • The grey-headed flying fox is easily distinguishable from other flying foxes as its fur extends down to its ankles

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more bat species on Arkive
Bats »

Grey-headed flying fox conservation organisations:

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No.2 Sloth bear

Sloth bear

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.

Nominated by:

IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group

Sloth bear facts

  • Strangely for a bear, this species' main food source is insects
  • The sloth bear has a dinstinctive pale whitish or cream marking on the chest, forming a U or Y shape
  • Sloth bear cubs stay with their mother for 2.5 years and therefore females only breed at two or three year intervals

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more bear species on Arkive
Bears »

Sloth bear conservation organisations:

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No.3 Sunda pangolin

Sunda pangolin

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.

Nominated by:

IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group

Sunda pangolin facts

  • Pangolins feed almost exclusively on ants and termites and are nocturnal, elusive animals
  • Although they fulfil a similar niche in the ecosystem, pangolins are evolutionarily distinct from anteaters, armadillos and sloths
  • The Sunda pangolin population has declined by 80 percent over the past decade due to illegal trade

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more pangolin species on Arkive
Pangolins »

Sunda pangolin conservation organisations:

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No.4 African wild dog

African wild dog

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.

Nominated by:

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

African wild dog facts

  • Individual African wild dogs can be identified by their unique coat pattern
  • African wild dogs hunt in groups and can bring down wildebeest weighing up to 250 kg
  • On average, the female African wild dog gives birth to 10 pups, which is the largest average litter size of any dog species

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more wild dog species on Arkive
Canids »

African wild dog conservation organisations:

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No.5 Titicaca water frog

Titicaca water frog

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.

Nominated by:

Denver Zoo

Titicaca water frog facts

  • The Titicaca water frog is the largest truly aquatic frog in the world
  • A giant amphibian, the Titcaca water frog can weigh up to 1kg
  • Local people harvest the Titicaca water frog to create a juice which is believed to cure many ailments

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more frog and toad species on Arkive
Frogs and toads »

Titicaca water frog conservation organisations:

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No.6 Harbour porpoise

Harbour porpoise

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.

Nominated by:

Sea-Watch Foundation

Harbour porpoise facts

  • The harbour porpoise is the most widely distributed cetacean in northern Europe
  • At birth, young harbour porpoises have 'birth lines', which look like folds in the skin, and persist for the first few hours after birth
  • A social species, the harbour porpoise travels in groups numbering between two and five individuals

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more porpoise species on Arkive
Porpoises »

Harbour porpoise conservation organisations:

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No.7 Mountain chicken

Mountain chicken

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.

Nominated by:

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Mountain chicken facts

  • Named after the taste of its meat, the mountain chicken lives mainly in the lowlands rather than in the mountains as its name suggests
  • The mountain chicken is now found only on the islands of Dominica and Montserrat, but was once found on many Caribbean islands
  • Female mountain chickens can grow to a snout-vent length of up to 21 cm

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more frog and toad species on Arkive
Frogs and toads »

Mountain chicken conservation organisations:

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No.8 Large flying fox

Large flying fox

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.

Nominated by:

Lubee Bat Conservancy

Large flying fox facts

  • Flying foxes are named for their fox-like facial features
  • The wingspan of the large flying fox can reach up to 1.5 m
  • Unlike many other bats which use echolocation, flying foxes depend on their eye sight in order to find their way at night

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more bat species on Arkive
Bats »

Large flying fox conservation organisations:

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No.9 Cownose ray

Cownose ray

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.

Nominated by:

Shark Advocates International

Cownose ray facts

  • After the age of seven, female cownose rays will only give birth to one pup per year
  • The cownose ray detects its prey by sensing movements and weak electrical signals
  • The cownose ray pumps water onto the sandy seabed to expose hidden prey species

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more ray and skate species on Arkive
Rays and skates »

Cownose ray conservation organisations:

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No.10 Grey long-eared bat

Grey long-eared bat

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

Nominated by:

Bat Conservation Trust

Grey long-eared bat facts

  • After mating in autumn, the female grey long-eared bat will delay the fertilisation of its eggs until the following spring
  • Contrary to popular belief, many bat species are not actually blind and can see very well
  • The grey long-eared bat uses echolocation to orientate itself at night; emitting bursts of sound that are too high a frequency for humans to hear

Find out more»

Related species:

Discover more vesper bat species on Arkive
Vesper bats »

Grey long-eared bat conservation organisations:

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