Tarangire Big Mammal Day

Here is a report that I’ve been meaning to post for some time about a Big Mammal Day that I carried out with my wife and some friends in the Tarangire ecosystem last year. It strikes me that now is a good time for people to try Big Mammal Days in their country or state. International travel is greatly restricted meaning we’re all staying close to home, and Big Mammal Days rely on good local knowledge, so are best carried out in areas you know well.

If you do give it a shot let us know how you get along.



  • Bob Berghaier

    well done

  • Anita Ericson

    Very good idea! I will try it even if I live in Sweden and can not see as many species.

  • Venkat Sankar

    Wow, that’s an amazing result! I’m particularly impressed by the number of small mammals you recorded, and the many regionally rare (or at least rarely seen) species e.g. Aardvark, Zorilla, Greater Kudu, etc.

    I haven’t tried a California Big Day this year, but a friend and I talked about it after a very successful night in the San Diego County desert in June. We found a remarkable 25 species of mammal from 9PM-6AM, thanks to a rodent population explosion and good luck finding bat roosts (found and photo’d 7 sp. without a detector).

    If we wanted to go for a big day, we thought we could’ve added at least 3 more bats + Brush Rabbit + 3 sciurids + Botta’s Pocket Gopher + CA vole + Dulzura and Desert k-rats + Brush Mouse + Bottlenose Dolphin + Coyote (heard only) + 2 pinnipeds relatively easily, making an impressive 41 species. A whale watch would probably net at least 2 more cetaceans.

    • Charles Foley

      Yes we did well with the small mammals, although for most of them we had either a locked down site or else a pretty good idea of where we might find them. We got lucky with the Nycteris, Serotine and Arvicanthis but for the majority of the little beasties it was just a case of looking in the right Baobab tree or behind the right bungalow for us to find them. Timing is obviously really important in Big mammal days. We could do a similar count in the Tarangire ecosystem in April (wet season) and be lucky to hit 35 species.

      In California it seems to me that figuring out a way to see lots of sea mammals in a short space of time would be key to a really big list. Between the pinnipeds, otters and cetaceans you could probably get 10-12 species at the right time of the year. The problem is sea trips eat up your precious time. Perhaps you need to make friends with someone with a small plane….


    Obviously the only way to do a perfect big day in California would be to charter a small plane. You can easily scoop all common marine animals in one hour of flying over Monterey Bay, for example.

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