Red Panda Quest

  1. Charles Foley 3 years ago

    I enjoyed your trip report Mac. This seems like an excellent place for Red Panda’s based on how many you saw. And well done for spotting some of them yourself – good to know the eyes are still sharp as ever!

    I’m interested to hear that people are using species such as the Red Panda and Fishing Cat as flagship animals and actually setting up lodges based around sighting these species. I hope the ventures are successful and that more species are used in this capacity. Its good for conservation and, lets be frank, its also good for our mammal watching lists.


  2. Author
    machunter 3 years ago

    Yes, it makes you wonder what is the most obscure mammal species that is the key attraction for a successful lodge or guiding operation. My candidate among the our feathered friends would be the “plains wanderer” which has lured many hundreds of naturalists, probably thousands, to one remote spot in Oz. Would the aardvarks at Marrick be a contender? Was it your report on our 2007 trip there that put Marrick on the map? …mac

  3. Charles Foley 3 years ago

    Yes I believe it was our 2007 trip to Marrick that started the pilgrimages to the place. That said, Marrick has three highly sought after mammal species – Aardvark, Black-footed cat, and Aardwolf, so its not surprising that it attracts a lot of attention from the mammal watching crowd. I’m curious to know whether there are enough people out there to make a viable business model out of promoting sightings of a single species that isn’t perhaps on the top of most people’s most-wanted list, such as the Fishing cat. I hope so, as its potentially a great conservation tool, but I don’t really have a clue how many hard core mammal watchers there are out there. Typically only a small number of people actually post on this site, but I suspect there are many more lurkers who assimilate the information and use it to find mammals. Jon, do you have any idea of the numbers of different people logging into the site (rather than repeat visitors)?

    • Mattia from Italy 3 years ago

      Yes, Marrick hosts many mammalwatchers for his wonderful night tours (I was told they run 100-120 tours per year). But Trevor, the owner, can’t absolutely earn a living with this. Night tours are just a side activity. Trevor is a great conservationist, but the main income of the farm originates from people that come in the farm for hunting the ungulates that he breeds in the property. I think that to shot a “Copper Springbok” gives him much more than a month of night tours.

      Very very few people live just with ecotourism. Only exceptions are the NParks with big and charismatic mammals easy to see, that attract even the general public.

      • Charles Foley 3 years ago

        Wow. 100-120 night drives a year! I don’t know what his overheads are (its a pretty big farm and they probably have quite a few staff), but assuming an average of 2-3 people per drive and given that they would all be also paying for room and board, mammal watching must make a fairly significant contribution to his business. Even if its only a side complement to his main hunting business, its clearly a real bonus. I think that figure is pretty impressive given that people are going there solely to look for small, cryptic mammals.

        • Mattia from Italy 3 years ago

          No Charles. I assure you that night drives cover just a very small part of the costs that Trevor has to bear for his farm. The property is huge, staff is big and he tries to keep rates as low as possible. He could live well even without mammalwatchers.

          In fact, it’s hunting business that allows him to mantain the farm without to turn it into a cattle ranch, and to offer us wonderful tours for Aards and Cats without to pay a lot of money.

  4. Jon Hall 3 years ago

    Charles, the site gets around 400 unique visitors a day and 6000 unique visitors a month. And is growing steadily. Quite a bit of this comes from google searching of specific species – suprising how often comes up first when searching for pictures of the more obscure mammals. From what I can tell Mac’s post has had 150 views so far. So yes there are quite a lot of lurkers out there. I don’t know how hard to the core they are … but the good news is its growing and I see a lot of birders getting more interested in mammals now too. I suspect the greatest growth in mammalwatchers will come from birders who get more interested in mammals (though likely not less interested in birds).

    • Author
      machunter 3 years ago

      For what it’s worth, we shared the Habre’s Nest site with visitors from Canada, Israel, Switzerland, and Mumbai, India and I would characterize all of them as keen naturalists, but not hard core tickers. Of course red pandas are adorable for almost everyone. The Fishing Cat site had fewer visitors–the suburbs of Kolkata not being a big draw–but it seemed like a steady trickle that was probably economically viable; that operation is new and time will tell.

      Jon….6000 unique visitors per month is amazing. What a service you are providing! Makes one wonder what else might be done with so many eyes of people who care about mammals.

      • Jon Hall 3 years ago

        Thanks Mac …. I cannot pretend it is completely altruistic… the site has been wonderful for my mammal list too 🙂

  5. Charles Foley 3 years ago

    I agree with Mac, having 6000 unique visitors a month is excellent. Good effort! Feel free to uncork a (cheapish) bottle of wine on us….

    At some point it would be interesting to canvass the site readers on how many times people have organised a trip and/or used a travel company based on what they’ve read on this site. I’ve certainly done both.

    • Author
      machunter 3 years ago

      If such a poll is undertaken it would be nice to ask where they are going and key target species to get at that question of how many folks are pursuing species other than tigers, gorillas, polar bears, etc.. You might also ask about mammals vs other taxa and learn that the birds are often thick icing on the cake of a trip centered on target mammals. That has very often been the case for me. This trip netted just three life mammals for me vs 17 life birds but it was certainly designed around the mammals. That said, it would have been rather thin without the birds.

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