Mammalwatching Meeting 2020???

Dear mammal watchers

Birders are doing it already…we discussed with Jon Hall about the idea of a mammal watcher meeting!!!

It would not only be great to meet other mammal watchers to exchange knowledge, experience and to learn more, but it could also be a chance to discuss what we all could do more for the mammals we love to observe – to help protect them. Jon Hall had the idea of perhaps combining/integrating this meeting with a birders meeting (like the bird fair).

Our main idea (besides exchanging great mammal watching topics) would indeed be to combine mammal watching trips with a bit of conservation and of course connect good people. So all ideas which would help in this regard would be welcome!

Before we would go to a next step to try to organise such a meeting for 2020 we would like to hear from the community if such a meeting would be welcome and if mammal watchers would really take their time to come. So please leave a comment and tell us your opinions and ideas.

Here are some of our ideas what themes we could discuss specifically:
– Open ideas and discussions how mammal watching could help conservation. Of course talk also about the problems, chances and risks ect.
– Motivate the mammal watching community to discover new mammal watching places. We like Jons ideas of awards/contests, maybe there could be an award for the best 3 new location of the year or something like that.
– Try to connect mammal watchers/mammal watching trips more to conservation projects. For example like with Armando and the bears in Ecuador. Also kind of volunteer work could be proposed or camera trapping etc. In our experience doing something small for conservation makes ones trip much more worthy and exciting.
– Connecting mammal watchers to perhaps start future projects/task force etc.
– Perhaps we could even discuss developping a kind of kodex for mammal watching and a kind of club or something where people could contribute and get membership cards etc…

– And a lot more (community ideas are very welcome)…


We just started this year to try to do more. An example of what we did so far:

We left/donated camera traps to researcher in countries/regions where they did not have any good ones or any ones at all. We also talked with many people we met in mammal watching areas about the importance of wildlife and nature and showed them, what animals live next to them. Ones we had a meeting with 30 children. We also try to build up a wild cats club in Switzerland to bring more attention and protection to small wild cats worldwide.
These are only small things but perhaps it will still help in some way and also it feels much better to do more apart from helping indirectly through good tourism.

We are looking forward for a discussion and perhaps the first mammal watching meeting!!!  🙂


  • Craig Smith

    I think this is a fantastic idea. The issue is where? We are spread across the globe.
    Craig Smith
    Melbourne, Australia.

  • John

    Great idea

    One meeting in central euròpe sokewhere and one in the states perhaps?

    Would very much like to attend !


  • Rohit

    Great idea, I think it should be arranged at some mammal watching hotspot like Africa.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Great idea! Should be some place that has cheap flights to areas where most mammalwatchers live. I’d love a meeting in Africa but we shouldn’t exclude low-budget travelers (like myself, who is currently unemployed and mostly survives on a diet of Peromyscus). Probably where Jon Hall lives? I could organize a field trip or two in the area.

  • John J Van Niel

    I would love to attend. We need to also think about time of year, and soon since many of us plan travel many months on advance…

  • Andrew Murch

    You could run it alongside the annual meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists. Next one is in Boulder, Colorado. June 5-9 2020.

  • Margarita Steinhardt

    I think it’s a fantastic idea. I particularly like the notion of connecting mammal watching trips to conservation projects. I would love to attend.

  • Nick W

    Realistically, I probably won’t have the budget to go out of state for a meeting but were it to be in California, I’d make some effort to attend. One possibility that could be considered (at the risk of over-complication) could be a multi-site or webstreamed meeting for those unable to attend a single, centralized meeting.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    I am pretty sure most people here already have the entire summer of 2020 planned out. Considering that it’s just a weekend, the best time would be something lke late February when few people are traveling elsewhere.

  • mikehoit

    This is a great idea! I would certainly love to attend if it’s at all possible (planning as far ahead as we can makes this more likely!). In the meantime I can distract myself while supposedly working from home by thinking of locations and discussion topics…

  • john wright

    Sounds like a good idea to me. I’d attend if I could – depending on when and where.

  • Mac Hunter

    If field trips are a key attractant it strikes me that mammal watching is usually a small group activity, but with one notable exception, whale watching. Two considerations—the need to have a critical mass to share boat costs and the open view with many eyes searching— dramatically change the “population dynamic.”
    How about a 3-5 day trip to Baja California or xxxx with the meeting happening on board too? I am sure there are lots of downsides to this idea but some of my best experiences—both natural history and social—have been at sea.

  • Manul

    Dear all
    Thanks a lot for your comments and ideas. We are happy to hear that many are interested!
    We will probably send some kind of voting platform for a date and place in the next couple of days and see what happens.
    Manuel and Sophie

  • CharlesHood

    Just a comment on the American Society of Mammalogists — as noted, they next meet in Boulder Colorado, June 2020. I proposed to them a panel on the value of amateur mammal watching linked to their own goals, eg allowing “us” to visit “their” study sites in trade for donations or photographs, and suggesting that amateur sightings contribute to citizen science. (Vladimir has published on this, etc.) My panel idea was NOT accepted. It is not a conversation they were willing to have.

    Somebody can correct me on this, but the British Bird Fair charges admission to the general public AND they must charge the companies whose booths are there? There is a fair amount of commerce involved. If we hope to attract vendors to a mammal fair, a location will expect a deposit from the sponsor / organizer, and it would need all to be sorted out well in advance. Even if small companies could afford to fly to site x, their own tour agendas are planned well in advance.

    The one thing we can do as a group easily is a pelagic trip (as also noted above); Jon Hall and I have an idea for a one-off trip for Guadalupe Fur Seal leaving from Southern California. (Trying to work on that now.) Personally, I would love one for NE’n USA cetaceans, or else a Gulf Stream trip out of NC. There are the usual birding trips there, but a boat whose primary focus is marine mammals would be grand. But in either location, NE’n USA or SE’n, if we were to include small mammal trapping, wouldn’t somebody need a permit? A lot of what is done (passive voice) happens outside the strictest limits of the law…. and maybe is best kept that way.

    Charles Hood

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Charles, all valid points, but I don’t think we’ll have a number of people anywhere near the British Bird Fair. For a much smaller event, a school classroom (they are often available free or at symbolic cost) or a local library and a few restaurant reservations might be enough. If it’s in NYC area, I could try to arrange a larger auditorium at one of local universities, and maybe a pelagic trip through Paulagics.

  • Samuel

    That’s a great indeed ! but like several others not so easy from France to go to the USA for a WE and splitting in 2 groups: NA and EU could make a lot of sense

  • John Fox

    I like the idea of a pelagic trip as I’m into marine mammals, and it would allow some mammal watching without a lot of organizing efforts. Cruise ships reposition twice a year and often have very reasonable pricing/no single supplement. It would also accommodate spouses and families with ease. This is too late for this year but is a good example:

    I still need Marine Otter and Burmeister’s Porpoise so I keep track of ways to get out to the Humboldt Current. Other ships go through the Azores, which might be good for both Europe and NA.

  • Simon Reece

    Apologies for the late reply – I have been away and am just catching up.
    This initiative sound really great but people with time and budget constraints are going to find attending difficult unless they are nearby. Great idea though and it will be good see how it develops.
    Might it be feasible to develop some sort of ‘directory’ of people who might be prepared to be contacted when visiting their area for help, advice or even a bit of local guiding, even if only for a few hours? I guess many mammal watchers will have seen only a small fraction of the the numbers of species seen by those with long lists of ‘ticks’ and even help to see the mundane and common in someone else’s area would be interesting. Just a thought.

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