The world’s most loved under appreciated species

Ugly animals that we all love, really.

Two weeks – 84 organisations – 122 countries

In the run up to Valentine’s day ARKive asked conservation organisations around the world which animals they thought were most under appreciated. They started a poll on their website and asked people to vote for their favourite animal over a period of two weeks. It’s more than just good fun, though. The project is a great way to shine a light on some of the world’s uglier species that often get over-looked for ignored in favour of the more charismatic and cuddly animals.  The results are in and here is the top ten most loved and under appreciated:

 

10. Grey long eared bat

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Flickr Alexandre Roux

 

Widespread throughout Europe, the grey long-eared bat is one of the cutest insectivorous species there is. With its long ears and pale under-belly, it has earned itself a place in the top ten most loved species. It is a particularly rare sight in the UK and several populations are now extinct in the last 30 years. They are more common in the south of Europe than the north.

 

9. Cownose ray

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Wikimedia commons Ed Schipul

 

Put forward by the Shark Advocates International,  the cownose ray came in 8th place. The large rounded lobes at the front of its head give the creature a very friendly appearance. These lobes are used for probing the seafloor for prey. They are mostly found in temperate and tropical waters in the western Atlantic.

 

8. Large flying fox

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Flickr Marc Witzel

 

The second bat on the list, the large flying fox is, as its name suggests, one of the biggest bats in the world. Found along the coasts of South East Asia, they hang upside down in tall trees. They suffer from persecution, mainly from farmers who believe the bat to be a pest due to its frugivorous diet, and also from hunters who kill them for food.

 

7. Mountain chicken

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Flickr Nigel Swales

 

The confusingly named mountain chicken, is actually a frog rather than a member of the poultry family. One of the most endangered frogs in the world; there has been much work to try and bring the species back from the brink of extinction. Populations have declined by a staggering 90% in just ten years. It’s thought there are only 86 wild individuals on Dominica and just two on Montserrat.

 

6. Harbour porpoise

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Flickr Esther Lee

 

This cute little creature is one of six porpoise species and is one of the smallest marine mammals in the world. The ‘harbour’ refers to the porpoises preference to coastal habitats and river estuaries. They look quite similar to dolphins and but can easily be identified for its lack of a beak.

 

5. Titicaca water frog

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Wikimedia commons Joshua Stone

 

A frog with the ability to breathe underwater, thanks to many folds of skin. They are extremely threatened as people hunt them in large numbers. It is believed that the frog can be made into a juice and consumed to heal a number of ailments. Found in only one lake on the border of Peru and Bolivia, they are the biggest truly aquatic frogs on Earth.

 

4. African wild dog

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Flickr Eric Kilby

 

This dog is also known as the painted dog, possibly due to marketing by zoos to make them seem less ‘wild’ and more attractive to customers. Each individual of a group will have their own coat pattern, enabling you to identify them by their coat alone. They are highly sociable, have large home ranges, and live and hunt in tightly coordinated packs in the African savannah.

 

3. Sunda pangolin

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Wikimedia commons Piekfrosch

 

Pangolins have earned the unfortunate title of ‘most trafficked animal on Earth’. They are highly sought after in Asian markets and fetch a large price on the black market. When they feel threatened they curl up into a ball, which only makes life easier for hunters. Their body is covered with scales made of keratin, which is used in Chinese traditional medicine to cure almost any disease or medical complaint.

 

2. Sloth bear

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Wikimedia commons NIHAL JABIN

 

Sloth bears feed on ants and termites and are especially adapted to doing so. Their long shaggy coat makes it harder for insects to reach their skin and protects them from being bitten. When they find a termite mound, they use their long (up to 3 inch) claws to destroy the nest. They are missing the two upper front teeth and are able to close their nostrils, meaning their snout acts just like a vacuum – perfect for sucking up insects!

 

And the winner is…

 

 1. Grey-headed flying fox

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Wikimedia commons Welbergen

 

Named for its foxy-looking features, the grey-headed flying fox is a large frugivorous bat that lives in Australia, and is their only endemic flying fox. They are extremely ecologically important and when they fly long distances, they disperse the seeds of the fruit they eat, pollinating the landscape.

 

 

 

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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje