Mammal Watcher’s Most Wanted

After the popular, albeit highly controversial, world’s best mammal poll (thanks everyone for the analysis) I would love to hear what your current 10 most wanted mammals are. I know a few people already posted their most wanted lists (and I plan to go back to those responses when I look at the votes) but feel very free to repost again here.

To make the judges’ my life simpler could you try to limit your list to just ten  species.  Feel free to qualify your choices (e.g. I want to see an Aardvark but I have to be naked and drinking a beer at the time) though I will ignore these qualifications when tallying the score.

If you want to minimise my own massive prejudice coming through when I score these (I confess I am a total Giant Pangolin racist), try to be specific about the species rather than listing a genus or order.  If you want to be more specific than the species (e.g. Siberian Tiger) then I will try to honour that, unless it becomes too troublesome for my feeble mind.

To kick things off then here are my ten most wanted species in no particular order, and this might well have changed by this afternoon depending on what other people say.

  1. Okapi
  2. Giant Pangolin (sorry Eran!)
  3. Bush Dog
  4. Leopard Seal
  5. Sun Bear (this might seem a bit of an outside choice: it is the only bear I haven’t seen and I have always had a bit of a thing for them)
  6. Spotted Bat (google a picture and you will see why)
  7. Tufted Ground Squirrel (as above)
  8. Mandrill
  9. Maned Rat (super cool looking AND it keeps its fur poisonous)
  10. Aye Aye (more than ever after Eran Tomer’s brilliant description .. in case you missed it “it looks like an opossum that fell into a washing machine. You know, one of those animals that sleeps with its fur on and never irons it. It also has a perennially-shocked stare, as if caught naked or doing something Momma told it not to.”)


  • Venkat Sankar

    Here’s my list (in no particular order):
    1. Narwhal
    2. Spectral Bat
    3. Bush Dog
    4. Clouded Leopard (either of them)
    5. Aye-Aye
    6. Okapi
    7. Bonobo
    8. Tufted Ground Squirrel
    9. Markhor
    10. Long-eared Jerboa

    All the ones on Jon’s list are pretty brilliant, and there is certainly some overlap here; I’ve only seen Spotted Bat.

    I’ve tried to be a bit “fair” by distributing it equally among continents, but I do admittedly have biases towards Asian and African fauna (sorry Australia!).

  • kittykat23uk

    Hmm okay so off the top of my head my current list of most wanted mammals is very much focused on my next trip, which is South Africa in September:

    1. Riverine rabbit
    2. Aardvark
    3. aardwolf
    4. Honey badger
    5. Bat eared fox
    6. Spring hare
    7. Smith’s red rock rabbit
    8. meerkat
    9. Gemsbok
    10. Any sengi

    Top of my most wanted other mammals are:
    1. maned wolf
    2. Giant anteater and of course
    3. Clouded leopard!!!! 🙁
    4. Snorkelling with humpbacks and orcas.

  • Matt & Maureen

    Here’s our list. We could have just kept rotating animals on and off of it!

    Congo clawless otter
    Red panda
    Giant panda
    Maned wolf
    Tree kangaroo

    Nearly on the list: snow leopard, clouded leopard, dhole, long-beaked echidna, fennec fox, maned rat

  • John Fox

    In no particular order

    Monito del Monte


    Star-nosed Mole

    Any Beaked Whale, I’ve seen none

    Canadian Lynx

    Narwhal, I took the worst trip of my life to dip on it

    Ribbon Seal

    Striped, Rough-toothed, Clymene, Fraser’s dolphin, LOL


    Woolly Mammoth hahaha


  • Charles Foley

    Mine are as follows:

    1) Striped weasel
    2) Abbott’s duiker
    3) Giant Pangolin
    4) Okapi
    5) Addax
    6) Dibatag
    7) Markhor
    8) Jentink’s duiker
    9) Aquatic civet
    10) Narwhal

    Very Africa focussed I know, but its where I live, and some of these species I’ve been chasing for quite a while now, and have come close to taking on ‘nemesis’ status. I will concentrate on the top three in the next 18 months and hopefully catch up with them.

  • samuel marlin

    Unbelievable !! There are some mammals we saw that Jon, my mammal watcher “master” did not see yet and put in this list…
    Below is our list in no specific order (except for number 1):
    1 Giant panda
    2 Okapi
    3 Narwhal
    4 Clouded Leopard
    5 Bonobo
    6 Any sort of pangolin
    7 Numbat
    8 Amazon river dolphin (swim with them)
    9 Mountain gorilla
    10 Palla’s cat

    • Jon Hall

      Go on make me jealous … which ones form my list have you seen?!

      • samuel marlin

        Well not a lot to be honest (I should have said mammal and not mammals): leopard seal…
        + hopefully for us Aye-Aye during our next trip to Madagascar this coming July


    1 = African Golden Cat & Temminck’s Golden Cat
    3 – Andean Mountain Cat
    4 – Bay Cat
    5 – Pampas Cat
    6 – Mainland Clouded Leopard
    7 – Northern Oncilla
    8 – Okapi
    9 – Javan Rhino
    10 – Bush Dog

  • tomeslice

    You learn a lot about people based on this list…

    1) Giant Panda
    2) Sumatran Rhino
    3) Sun Bear
    4) Either Clouded Leopard
    5) Margay
    6) Bush Dog
    7) Red Panda
    8) Bonobo
    8) (tied) Common Chimp (I have so much to catch up on…)
    9) Wolverine
    10) Eurasian Lynx

    Honorary mention to the F***ing CARACAL who keeps eluding me. But I will find it, sooner than later because I live an hour or two’s drive from its habitat. Same with Striped Hyena which apparently is increasing in Israel but I just haven’t tried hard enough. Maybe next weekend, since this weekend was “party weekend”.

    I also didn’t include tiger and Indian Rhino since I just have to go see them.. it’s just a matter of goign to India. Same with Polar Bear and its arctic friends. And African wild dogs which I missed but will see in the future since they’re not that rare in some places.


  • geomalia

    Mine is the same as my 10 best list, except for Pangolins (the only one I’ve seen thus far):

    1. Okapi
    2. Sumatran Rhino
    3. any Long-beaked Echidna
    4. Saola
    5. Giant Panda
    6. either Asian Linsang
    7. Snow Leopard (close views)
    8. Bush Dog
    9. Sperm Whale (under the water)
    10. Thylacine*

  • Ian Thompson

    My current ten most wanted in no particular order:
    1. Giant armadillo
    2. Wolverine
    3. Andean bear
    4. Bush dog
    5. Takin
    6. Argali
    7. Javan rhino
    8. Okapi
    9. African golden cat
    10. Black-footed ferret

    Ian Thompson

  • Antee

    At this time… in the middle of the night, my top 10 looks like this in no particular order:

    1. Gobi bear (Always on every list I make. Who can resist this ancient line of Brown bears who is soon gone)

    2. Narwhal (As much it is the remote and beautiful environment it lives in as it is the animal itself…)

    3. Polar Bear

    4. Long eared Jerboa (Missed them last time in Mongolia, all were hibernating. Damn! and you know the feeling when you have missed a target on your trip…)

    5. Clouded Leopard

    6. Aardvark (Going to Marrick soon and then it is gone from this list :))

    7. Sand cat

    8. Red Panda (Going to Labahe soon and give it a try)

    9. Bay cat (Who doesn´t want to be the first with a decent photo with a handheld camera…)

    10. Tonkin Snub-nosed monkey

    Tomorrow morning it is probably something else…

  • judy

    1. Mandrill, especially if a little eco-interest can help save the species.
    2. Wolverine
    3. Chimpanzee. Sadly had been a poaching incident 2 days before I arrived at Kibali. Silence was deafening.
    4. Walrus
    5. Sun Beat
    6. Clouded Leopard
    7. Aardvark
    8. Sperm whale
    9. Honey Badger
    10. Pretty much just slot in here any mammal living in a remote place in the wild, bonus to females with young.

  • Stuart

    I have an Asia biase as I live in Laos….and I have got lucky with some “big ticks” over the years…so my most wanted looks like this…
    1. Clouded leopard (mainland as seen the Sunda)
    2. Sun bear (seen the other 4 Asian spp)
    3. Marbled cat (tried many times)
    4. Red panda (lived in panda country for 2 years but never got lucky)
    5. Tibetan sand fox
    6. Serow (any spp)
    7. Caracal
    8. Wild Yak
    9. Asian Tapir
    10. Lynx

  • John Wright

    1. Arctic Fox
    2. Hunting Dog
    3. Dhole
    4. Red Panda
    5. Tibetan Fox
    6. Eurasian Lynx
    7. Blue Whale
    8. Maned Wolf
    9. Pallas’s Cat
    10. Asian Tapir

  • Leslie Z Sokolow

    Simply too difficult to limit myself to 10. If I’m allowed to be fanciful, I’d love to see a cloned Mammoth.

    1. Musk Ox
    2. Polar Bear
    3. Narwhal
    4. Tiger
    5. Any rhino
    6. Pangolin
    7. Giant Anteater
    8. Jaguar
    9. Tasmanian Devil
    10. Numbat

  • Mike Richardson

    The first 7 of my ‘top 10 most wanted’ are species that I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking for-my nemesis mammals. The last 3 are just cool species which I hope to see some day.

    1. Blanford’s Fox
    2. Marbled Polecat
    3. Zorilla
    4. Orca
    5. Mountain Lion
    6. Riverine Rabbit
    7. Crested Porcupine (ideally in the Western Palaearctic)
    8. Wolverine
    9. Red River Hog
    10. Piebald Shrew

  • Paul

    Scottish Wildcat need to be up there for me!

  • Larry Master

    These species have all been on my want list for a while and are Western Hemisphere wants. (I am lucky to have seen clouded leopard, pangolin, lots of lemurs, platypus, orangutan, aye-aye (maybe), blue & sperm whales, lynx, maned wolf, and some others on the preceding lists.)
    1. Jaguar (hope to see in September in the Pantanal)
    2. Narwhal
    3. Black-footed Ferret
    4. Spectacled Bear
    5. Wolverine
    6. American Badger
    7. Solenodon
    8. (Arctic) Wolf
    9. Spotted Bat
    10. Bush Dog

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Piebald shrew can be reliably caught in the desert along the Russia/Kazakhstan border near Astrakhan, but you need to install a few dozen pitfall traps and a few hundred meters of plastic fencing. Another option is early morning tracking in dune fields around Boranly, Kazakhstan, where it is abundant (or was in 1991).

  • phil telfer

    Think this is my 10 most wanted at the moment but have around 8 more that i struggled to leave out.

    1. African Golden Cat
    2. Bongo
    3. Giant Pangolin
    4. Javan Rhino
    5. Fisher
    6. Marbled Cat
    7. Yapok
    8. Sun Bear
    9. Bush Dog
    10. Narwhal.

    A few others that could easily have got in here are,

    Andean Mt. Cat
    Andean Bear
    And Tayra’s that are playing hard to get for me.


  • Curtis Hart

    1. Okapi
    2. Wolverine – preferably in North America

    These in any order

    Maned Wolf
    Giant Panda
    Polar Bear
    Pig-tailed Langur – basically all 4 primates there, but I’ve been wanting to visit Siberut for years.
    Nile Lechwe – after having to skip Gambela Ethiopia.
    Red Panda
    Muskox – preferably a native population

  • John Dixon

    Ethiopian Wolf
    Sloth Bear
    Blue Whale (biggest always counts)
    Polar Bear
    Platypus (weird…!)
    Striped Hyena (missed it in Israel last month, grudge match now)
    Giant Anteater
    Black-footed Ferret

  • mattf

    Again in no particular order and with various levels of difficulty, luck required and expense…

    Polar Bear
    Giant Panda
    Marsupial Mole
    Mountain Lion (missed by this much..)
    Dingiso (has any mammal watcher seen one?)
    Either Chimp

  • Malcolm Turner

    My top ten “want to see” — starting with a couple of Aussies
    Marsupial Mole
    Leadbeaters Possum
    Giant Anteater
    Giant Panda
    Polar Bear
    Aye Aye

  • Don Roberson

    I”ll do this “age adjusted,” to use Jon’s phrase. I’m past the time for expeditions for Bongo, Wolverine, or rare rhinos, and am not going to repeat a try for Snow Leopard. So this is a “want list” of (mostly) reasonable mammals that we will try to see:
    Tasmanian Devil
    any Pangolin
    Lesser Kudo
    Brown Hyena
    Golden Lion-Tamarin
    Black-footed Ferret
    And also try to finish up the “monsters of god,” either David Quammen’s list or this one

    • Charles Foley

      Hi Don,

      Just had a look at your website. I read the Man-eaters of Kumaon as a kid and am now reading it with my children, who are spellbound by it. Its certainly from a different era, when killing animals was considered quite normal, but its his bushcraft and knowledge about both the animals and the jungle that really stands out. Certainly one of the wildlife classics.


  • Lennart Verheuvel

    Alright, without looking at the other list I gave these would be my top 10. I have only included animals that I haven’t seen yet (which doensn’t really limit it since my list is pretty short, polar bear and bowhead whale are on it though!)

    1. Bay cat
    2. Okapi
    3. Andean mountain cat
    4. Gorilla
    5. Lion
    6. Cheetah
    7. Orca
    8. Snow leopard
    9. Platypus
    10. Jaguar

  • mattinidaho

    My most wanted:

    1. Mountain lion – has to be in the USA and preferably Idaho
    2. Wolverine
    3. Indri (really any and all lemurs, just following the rules)
    4. African wild dog
    5. Snow leopard
    6. Polar bear
    7. Fisher
    8. Tasmanian devil
    9. Mountain gorilla
    10. Musk ox

  • Stephen Shelley

    There is some overlap between my list here and the ones from my World’s Best Mammals list. In no particular order:

    – African maned rat
    – Aquatic genet
    – Black-spotted cuscus
    – Damaraland black rhinoceros
    – Hairy long-nosed armadillo (The first couple of images on google show one – pips both the pink fairy and giant as the oddest-looking armadillo to my mind)
    – Hourglass dolphin
    – Jentink’s duiker
    – Nilgiri marten
    – Pygmy scaly-tail (The accounts of them by Gerald Durrell in The Bafut Beagles has made them a must-see for me)
    – Silver-backed chevrotain (Or indeed any of the ten ‘lost’ mammals from the following list:

    This list almost constantly changes depending on how I am feeling – I’ll probably remember a really good mammal in a few hours and regret not putting that on the list instead.

  • mikehoit

    Having agonised over this for far longer that I should have done…

    Red Panda
    Bowhead Whale
    Giant (but any) Pangolin
    Star-nosed Mole
    Long-eared Jerboa
    Eurasian Polecat, just because failing to see a live one as the range expands in the UK is getting irritating. Alternatively, Chilean Dolphin as it’s my last Cephalorhynchus sp.

    Giant Panda and Polar Bear nearly snuck in as well, and I really wanted to include one of the really weird bats… Argh. So my list will probably be different tomorrow…

  • mac hunter

    The first six are species we need for our goal of seeing all the mammal families:

    Red panda (dipped 3 times; even had a Phd student with radios on but could not get to Nepal before the batteries died)
    Pygmy right whale
    Silky Anteater
    Marsupial mole
    Aye-aye (though 90% sure I had distant view of eye shine of one)
    Snow leopard
    Giant pangolin
    Sumatran rhino (relegated to #11 because I would not want to undergo the effort it would take to find it)

    • geomalia

      Wow, you’ve done quite well to see all but six mammal families! What base taxonomy do you use?

      I’d also like to see all mammal families (of course!). In addition to those you listed, there are a ton of other difficult ones, including
      Prionodontidae (Asian Linsangs)
      Microbiotheriidae (Monito del Monte)
      Dinomyidae (Pacarana)
      Caenolestidae (Shrew opossums)
      Myrmecobiidae (Numbat)
      Solenodontidae (Solenodons)
      Ptilocercidae (Pen-tailed Tree-shrew)
      Chrysochloridea (Golden Moles)
      Potamogalinae (Otter Shrews)

      I’d be interested to hear where you saw the first three, in particular!

      (edited to add Pacarana)

      • jo dale

        I must be the most unlucky person when it comes to red pandas. I saw two in Sichuan. The second sighting was devastating in that we saw it get hit by a car, whilst I was filming it . It still upsets me to think about it now. 🙁

      • mac hunter

        Sorry to mislead you Ben but I have over 40 families to go, mostly rats and bats. Your list includes other high priorities for my wife and I since we have seen only numbat and solenodon among the ones you list. We are using the “still evolving” Handbook of Mammals of the World, having used the H Bird W for bird families (and seen all but one of their families) . …mac

  • Alan D

    Wow, these are some great lists and I must confess that I probably have never heard of half of these. Of course, I am behind most of you in the Mammalwatching department having never been to Africa or Australia. My list comprises animals that I actually have a chance to see (or at least plan to travel to TRY to see them). Some animals are in locations that I know I would never venture to (Ex: Snow Leopard) so they are not on my list. I even included one I have seen before (Giant Anteater) but it was at distance and didn’t satisfy me. In the order I thought of them:

    1 – Giant Anteater
    2 – Tarsier
    3 – Mt Lion/Puma
    4 – Emperor Tamarin
    5 – Pangolin (Any, but Giant will do nicely)
    6 – Indri
    7 – Ringtail
    8 – Narwhal
    9 – Red Panda
    10 – Lynx (Again, any. Eurasian if I had to pick)

  • jo dale

    I am looking for people to join me next year, dates are open to discussing but probably September or thereabouts to visit serra do canastra national park and the monastery at Caraça for a 4/2 night split, for giant anteater and maned wolf and other mammals/birds then hopefully myself and Margarita will be combining this with the pantanal.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Ben: otter shrews are generally considered a subfamily of tenrecs.

  • Eran Tomer

    Sorry for jumping in so belatedly. Like many of the folks above, I too had to struggle with this one. So, to assuage my guilty conscience for leaving species off the top 10, I’ll list runner-ups too. Top 10:

    1. Okapi – highly unique, impressive, elusive, somewhat mysterious, not well studied, has a restricted geographic range, difficult to see, and endangered. Easy call.

    2. Blue Whale – preferrably underwater (though I don’t scuba dive…), but any good view will do. Largest animal known to have ever existed, has the tallest spout of any whale, uniquely shaped – almost serpentine when swimming, and has a place of special honor in both the animal kingdom and human consciousness. A veritable sea monster, albeit such an elegant and benign one. And it really is blue-ish.

    3. Narwhal – not only a quasi-legendary creature but also associated with remote arctic wilderness and, like many strictly arctic animals, possibly imperiled by global warming. No telling how the Narwhal will fare over coming years and decades, when sea ice dynamics change drastically along with sea water chemistry and consequently marine food chains. It seems that the sooner one can see a Narwhal, the better.

    4. Either Solenodon, with a slight priority for Cuban over Hispaniolan. These are truly outstanding and unique animals, though inaccurately labeled “shrew-like” by mass media. Vestiges of a very old mammalian lineage, have an idiosyncratic shape and venomous saliva, elusive, island endemics, restricted to tiny geographic ranges, very poorly known (though this is changing as of late), and seriously endangered. I fear greatly for their survival. Seeing one in the wild would be a rare and immense privilege.

    5. Giant Anteater – the Aardvark and Giant Pangolin are highly attractive, but in my view the Giant Anteater bests them narrowly for a bizarre, spectacular and altogether unlikely marvel of mammalian evolution. Perhaps the nearest living suggestion to the extinct Giant Ground Sloths that the first New World humans encountered. This is simply an unbelieveable animal. And on top of this, the little ones are incredibly cute when riding on their mothers’ backs.

    6. Greater Bilby – marsupials are a strikingly diverse group and contain a grossly disproportionate number of lovable species. But even among these, and on a continent that constitutes a cute animal factory, the Bilby stands out. Technically a bandicoot, or perhaps a bunny-coot or bunny-roo, this comic charmer is irresistibly adorable. It now occurs in only a fraction of its original range, in rather remote locations, and is difficult to see. It is seriously threatened and continues to face formidable perils. The only other Bilby, the Lesser, became extinct in contemporary times. As attractive and seductive a species as any, with a sense of urgency to seeing it, like the solenodons. The remoteness of its range is also alluring.

    7. Platypus – like the Okapi, needs little elaboration. The oddest mammal that not only lays eggs but produces venom and can detect prey via micro-electric reception. Fascinating on all counts, iconic, and fuzzy-furry to boot. A must see. Plus, what naturalist wouldn’t want to visit eastern Australia ?

    8. Attenborough’s or Eastern Long-beaked Echidnas, with priority for Attenborough’s. Spectacularly special animals, very little known, difficult to see, threatened, and found – of all places – in the wilds of New Guinea. All supremely attractive.

    9. Fennec Fox – the smallest of foxes and arguably the world’s cutest animal. Try to get any cuter and the animal will spontaneously combust of cuteness overload. A wee-tiny mini-fox with oversized ears, large, dark eyes and the softest, cream-colored fur. I can attest to this personally as I once had the grand fortune of touching a captive specimen. Unlike most foxes, the Fennec is also social. It is almost unstudied in the wild and considered difficult to observe over most of its range. And that range encompasses only a few countries, most of which are risky to visit in the more remote (and frequently lawless) areas where these foxes are found. And they are found in remote areas because they face increasing human persecution around settled places. For all of these reasons, this little bundle of charm is a must-see.

    10. Banded Linsang – one of the strangest of mammals, even among the Viverridae. Seemingly a hybrid of a genet, a giraffe, a weasel and a snake. As serpentine as any mammal. One of those animals that make one say, “Oh, this is a… no, it’s… wait, no, I mean yes, but it couldn’t… or-” etc. Strikingly pigmented too, and largely arboreal. It is very poorly known and very little studied (unless I am missing something). It also seems to be very difficult to find and observe, and hence mysterious. And it lives in the jungles of the Malay region, a wondrous destination for naturalists. Many places within its range suffer major deforestation and degradation, which doesn’t bode well for it. (Though it isn’t currently listed as threatened). An exceptionally alluring animal.

    Runner-ups: Zebra Duiker, Jentink’s Duiker, White Oryx, Saola, Addax, Wisent, Sable Antelope, Tibetan Antelope, Pygmy Right Whale, Bowhead Whale, Strap-toothed Beaked Whale, Russian Desman, Pink Fairy Armadillo, Giant Armadillo, Giant Pangolin, Walrus, either Falanouc.

    Honorary mention and also high priorities: Giraffe (yes, Giraffe. Amazing creature), Hirola, Markhor, Blackbuck, Gaur, Takin, Tasman (Shepherd’s) Beaked Whale, Franciscana, Spectacled Porpoise, Vaquita, Lowland Streaked Tenrec, Silky Anteater, Aardvark, Numbat, Dugong, Amazonian and West African Manatees, Ili Pika, Red-and-white Giant Flying Squirrel, Aardwolf, Fisher and Gray Wolf. Any Elephant-shrew or Treeshrew would also be welcome.

    Best regards,

    – Eran Tomer
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    • kittykat23uk

      Banded linsang is such an exquisite little animal! I was lucky to see one on a night drive in Danum on my first visit to Sabah. 🙂

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Why is giant pangolin so popular? It’s just a larger version of Temmink’s pangolin. The most distinctive pangolin species is the black-bellied 🙂

  • Philip Precey

    Fennec Fox
    Mountain Gorilla
    Honey Badger
    American Badger
    and any species of Mole that isn’t dead…

    (and either Hourglass or Southern Rightwhale Dolphins would be nice too)

  • roylesafaris

    Very interested to hear what is the final Most Wanted Top 10, i suspect Giant Pangolin will be in there 🙂
    My list is:

    1. Sumatran Rhino
    2. Javan Rhino
    3. Giant Panda
    4. Okapi
    5. Mesoplodon species
    6. Attenborough’s long-nosed echinda
    7. Andean mountain cat
    8. Either Marsupial mole
    9. Indochinese clouded leopard
    10. Bay cat

  • Tobi

    any mine would be of wildlife I have not seen yet:

    1. Okapi
    2. Giant Panda
    3. Red Panda
    4. Pygmy Hippo
    5. Clouded Leopard
    6. Black Lion Tamarin
    7. Any Manatee
    8. Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey
    9. Giant Armadillo
    10. Bilby

Leave a Reply