“The New Big 5” – looking for comments!

Hello all,

I’ve been working on the following text for an upcoming post on my blog, and since most of them are mammals I thought I’d run it through here first. Any comments or corrections would be appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

.

The New Big 5: The most difficult animals to spot in the wild

The Big 5 is a term trophy hunters in Africa coined to list the five most difficult and dangerous animals to add to their walls: the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. Today tourists to Africa still use it as a metric of how successful their safari was. “Oh it was amazing, we saw four of the Big 5!” In cases like this, you can usually assume it was the leopard that got away.

Since safaris and wildlife tourism have taken on a more bloodless nature, that has made it physically easier for the human and infinitely more pleasant for the animal. So with that in mind, it’s time for an update, for there are animals that don’t even afford a sighting in the wild without a significant amount of effort.

#5: Snow leopard
Quite possibly the most beautiful big cat, this animal is to wildlife photographers what Moby Dick is to whalers. Distributed across the Himalayas, no small area, it is a master of disguise and rock climbing alike. Finding one requires a telescope and a strong will, for hours will be spent scanning the rock face – and carefully too, for its camouflage is such that one can be looking right at it and be none the wiser. The only thing that keeps it from being further up the list is the existence of a bit of a tourism industry built up around this big cat in Hemis National Park in Ladakh, where sightings have become regular enough that now there are tours on can go on and guides that can be hired to help with the hunt for them. Rumbak Valley is considered a hotspot for them, and it’s mercifully close to the regional capital of Leh. On a less merciful note, winter is the best time to go looking as they are more active in the hunt for their prey at that time.

#4: Javan Rhino

One of the world’s rarest animals, there are fewer than sixty in the wild and they all inhabit one not-quite-an-island piece of land on the tip of Java – Ujung Kulon National Park. They used to live across most of southeast Asia, and the only reason they’re not extinct is the eruption of Krakatoa, one of the deadliest in human history, and a subsequent tsunami that rendered the peninsula uninhabitable. Ironically another one could be disastrous for the rhino’s existence…

Visiting the park itself is actually rather easy thanks to the presence of accommodation on Peucang Island, near to “Rhino Central”, but expensive thanks to needing a boat to get anywhere. Getting to the island involves a ride from the village of Taman Jaya, which itself can be reached from Jakarta in a day by bus if you set off early enough. From either point you can arrange for rangers to take you on the lengthy boat ride and trek through RC. You would need at least a week to realistically stand a chance of seeing a rhino.

#3: Giant Panda

There are hundreds of panda centres around Sichuan province that make seeing one in captivity, feeding and even cuddling one easy as pie. Finding one in the wild is a completely different matter. Hiring a guide or going on a tour is paramount, for two main reasons. First, China’s national parks and nature reserves can be fairly fickle when it comes to allowing foreigners or even people in general access, sometimes opening up a small section or not at all for years at a time before reopening and reclosing. Who knows what this depends on, but I’ve heard tell that it can be the director’s mood at the time. Don’t expect them to have announced this publicly. Your guide will likely be able to make arrangements with the powers that be, or at the very least know if it’s scuppered so that the trip is not wasted. Wolong, Qinling and Foping Nature Reserves are the main spots to go looking, assuming you’re able to get in. Once you’re in you’ll almost doubtlessly have to trek for an age and a day to stand a chance of spotting Po. Pandas are solitary with huge territories, and they’re far more inconspicuous than you may suppose. As a result some of the trekking could involve going off the trail altogether.

Oh, and one other thing: panda watching tours were illegal for a brief period in 2013 to… I can’t tell when it ended. Heck, I can’t even tell if it ended in an official capacity. The story goes, concerns over the possibility that the tours were “ecoterrorising” pandas (I haven’t a clue what that means) led to the Chinese government banning them altogether. And indeed, on mammalwatching.com’s China section there is a gap in giant panda sightings from that period onwards, which seems to have ended in 2018. So it would appear they’re back on, but it’s a seriously opaque situation.

#2: Okapi
Probably the strangest animal on this list, the okapi looks like a giraffe-tapir-zebra mish-mash, and inhabits a small portion of the Congolese rainforest. Calling it the “deepest, darkest” part would not be entirely inaccurate. This part is exclusively located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country racked with instability and more wars than one can keep track of. To say tourist infrastructure is lacking would be an understatement. To make things even better the national parks in which the okapi lives are blighted by poaching and even the rangers’ headquarters themselves, kept functional by significant donations from abroad and the presence of international NGOs, are not immune to full-scale attacks from rebel groups. Poaching has made the few surviving okapi incredibly wary of humans and there are plenty of hiding places in the thick jungle.

#1: Sumatran Rhino
If you thought the Javan rhino would be tough, you may wish to immediately abandon all hope of seeing this rhino in the wild. This rhino is actually more common than its Javan cousin numbers-wise, but that’s an incredibly low bar. The crew of the recent BBC wildlife documentary Seven Worlds One Planet had to settle on filming one in captivity, and if you’ve watched enough of David Attenborough’s documentaries you’ll already know how mammoth are the efforts the film crews typically put into finding their quarries.

For another illustration of how this animal may as well be mythological: Royle Safaris, a tour outfit, has published trip reports in which they’ve managed to show their guests some pretty rare stuff, including three of the animals on this list. There’s really no way to say that without sounding like I’m being sponsored by them, but it’s the truth. The Sumatran rhino finally fed them humble pie in 2019. After fighting a slew of bureaucracy and security to make sure they were not poachers or would sell that info to folks with less than honourable intentions, they were taken by a team of rangers to a secret location said to be the best area for them. Two weeks they spent in this area of forest. They came up with signs of the rhino, but alas, no rhino itself.

Honourary mention:

Kakapo
The most endangered bird in the world and a conservation success story, the kakapo is a large, flightless, nocturnal parrot that lives on two tiny islands off New Zealand. The only hope of getting to these islands is to find yourself in the employ of the country’s national parks service, a zoology society or the BBC wildlife division. Casual visitors are not permitted. The only thing keeping the kakapo off this list is the fact that it may not actually be that difficult to find once you set foot on the islands. Mark Carwardine and Stephen Fry certainly had little difficulty while filming Last Chance to See II in finding one. It then proceeded to climb Carwardine’s back and shag the back of his head. So realistically, it’s only the human barriers that keep one from seeing this rare bird. They exist with good reason though: this species hangs on by a thread, its populations having been decimated by introduced pests. These islands are clear from such threats but the accidental introduction of a stowaway bug on your luggage or, god forbid, rats in your boat, could spell disaster.

37 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Jon Hall
    Jon Hall 3 months ago

    This is great stuff. Of course we can debate endlessly the choice of animals. Personally I would not include Snow Leopard anymore as these are now longer as difficult as many species to see in the wild, and I would also have only included the one rhino for the sake of greater variety. Worthy replacements could include all three of the Golden Cats, Mainland Clouded Leopard, Pygmy Hippo, Bactrian Camel, Giant Pangolin and more but everyone will have their own views on this I am sure!

    • Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
      shoestringsafari 3 months ago

      Thanks very much! All good shouts, I certainly considered bactrian camel after watching Perfect Planet, and pangolins on account of how poached they are. About pygmy hippos, are they not quite doable if you’re able to get to Tiwai island?

  2. Profile photo of Jon Hall
    Jon Hall 3 months ago

    PS Please send a link to the final piece

  3. Tom 3 months ago

    The Cross River Gorilla. Nobody has seen one in over a decade. Only camera traps. Found in one region, between Cameroon and Nigeria.
    I had the honor of seeing Sumatran Rhino scat while I stayed at Tambling Reserve, within
    WAY KAMBAS NATIONAL PARK. But no sighting unfortunately.

  4. philip telfers 3 months ago

    The first five that came to mind are
    1. Sumatran Rhino
    2. Bay Cat
    3. Bush Dog
    4. Okapi
    5. Giant Otter Shrew.
    If i get the books out i could think of a few more.

  5. Ian Thompson 3 months ago

    My suggestions (admittedly skewed towards mammals I’ve always hoped to see):
    1. Saola
    2. Sumatran Rhino
    3. Leighton’s/West African Oyan
    4. Bay Cat
    5. Angwantibo (Calabar or Golden)
    With the possible exception of Sumatran Rhino, I don’t know anyone who has seen any of these. If you have , I’d love to hear more about it.

    • Martin Royle 3 months ago

      One of my clients had a golden angwatibo in Gabon, got a bad pic but the golden colour and general shape fit it. He is a leading athropologist with decades working with primates of all sorts. So I trust his ID

      Also know a couple of people who have seen bay cat.

  6. Morgan Churchill 3 months ago

    I am going to throw out a perhaps controversial thought/comment, but I always felt statuses like “big five” were less about difficulty and more about how iconic an animal was, at least in modern day usage. Everyone who does a safari in Africa is excited about seeing rhinos, lions, and elephants, even folks who are not specifically mammal listers. Those are in many ways the animals that draw people to visit a region, more than say some hyper-difficult mammal like the Okapi. So to me big five is a regional term, and not necessarily based on hardness, but how symbolic they are for an area.

    I would say Giant Panda and Snow Leopard might fall under that for China/Central Asia, but I am not sure either Sumatran or Javan Rhino would. Don’t get me wrong, if I ever ran across a Sumatran Rhino I would be absolutely thrilled, but its such a remote possibility that I would never really consider it when thinking about planning my first trip to Southeast Asia, versus say Orang-utan or Proboscis Monkey.

    • Martin royle 3 months ago

      The original ‘big five’ referred to the 5 most dangerous animals to hunt in Africa. Hence why they became the main trophies.

      Nowadays I think iconic status, elusiveness, awe at the animal itself (beauty, size, colouration etc) and rarity all pay a part in what appeals to people.

      It’s always subjective and I have chosen animals that are so large it is just hard to imagine them living anywhere and hardly being seen.

      I have personally spent a lot of time looking for both forest rhinos and it always amazes me how such large animals which are noisy when they move and eat and just about do anything remain so elusive. Incredible

    • Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
      shoestringsafari 3 months ago

      I definitely agree that there has to be something iconic about animals that make their way onto a list like the Big 5, plus my blog isn’t specifically geared towards mammal watching so I do have to somewhat write with the lay people in mind!

  7. Martin Royle 3 months ago

    I’d have to say:

    1- Sumatran rhino
    2- soala
    3- okapi
    4- Pygmy hippo
    5- bush dog

    All of which I need to see, and with the exception of bush dog they are all reasonably big animals which remain and have always remained elusive despite being so large. Which I think is the hallmark of what makes an animal so intriguing to try and find.

  8. Rob Foster 3 months ago

    I guess it all depends on what is meant by the “new big 5”. You may wish to tinker with the wording of the title to better reflect your chosen list i.e., “The New Big 5: The most difficult large mammals to spot in the wild”.

    Obviously there are lots of rarer non-mammalian animals that may be even more difficult to see in the wild. Not sure you want to use kakapo as honourable mention, since even among birds it might not be the most difficult to see in the wild.

    If the big 5 is limited to mammals, then Martin’s list perhaps best reflects your criteria, although bush dog may or may not make the cut based on size since they are only 20-30 kg (the saolo being the next smallest at 80-100 kg).

  9. philip telfer 3 months ago

    Ian, i nearly put that West African Oyan as well, good thinking, plus you know someone who’s seen Sumatran Rhino??

    Martin, good that we agreed on 3 out of 5. BTW, will reply to your email shortly.

  10. philip telfer 3 months ago

    Note for Jon, Pygmy Hippos are really easy, i’ve seen plenty.
    It’s ok i’m not bitter, i think i’ve gotten over it!

  11. Ian Thompson 3 months ago

    Okay, now I’m thinking of this post rather than the work I am supposed to be doing. Another five possibilities:
    1. Pacarana
    2. Pygmy Hog
    3. Long-beaked Echidna
    4. Several of the tree-kangaroos (Tenkile, Dingiso)
    5. Large-antlered Muntjac
    Martin, I had no idea you knew a couple of people who have seen Bay Cat. That is very cool. And I would love to see an Angwantibo – I read Gerald Durrell’s books when I was younger and that was one animal that stuck in my mind. Phil, I’ll send you an e-mail.

  12. Rob Foster 3 months ago

    Correction: more like 5-8 kg for bush dog

  13. Curtis Hart 3 months ago

    I have a hard time calling the Sumatran Rhino the top of this Big 5. While it is now quite difficult to see, it hasn’t been for that long. I’ve met multiple people who have seen Sumatran Rhino, even if they were locals who worked in their habitat. There was even one that was regularly seen on the Kinabatang River several years ago.

    Personally I’d think of species like Okapi(I met one person that has heard one, then IDed tracks), Saola(I know no one that has seen one), or Bushdog(I’ve met a couple people who have seen them) would be better for the top spot. All of them have always been hard to see and remain so. If you just want to go by difficulty, something like
    Vaquita is likely more difficult than Sumatran Rhino now.

    • Martin royle 3 months ago

      Vaquita is a good shout, but doable on the sea shepard surveys they do. I know someone who went twice and had several sightings. But only when weather and sea conditions were perfect. That was maybe 2-3 years ago, granted they have decreased since though.
      Ian everyone I know who has seen bay cat has only seen one running across a road, unfortunately nothing remotely reliable.
      I have heard Sumatran rhino feeding and moving through the forest in the way only a forest rhino can. I have a friend who tries a lot for SR (think he is on his 7th or 8th trip) but no success yet despite evidence all around.
      I also know no one who has seen a soala. That is probably worthy of being number one in hindsight. I just love the rhinos
      Good debate to have.

    • Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
      shoestringsafari 3 months ago

      “There was even one that was regularly seen on the Kinabatang River several years ago”
      Interesting! Though, the last I’d heard was that it had gone extinct in Sabah as of late so that one may be scuppered now.

      Saola certainly seems to be getting traction in these comments, may well add that.

  14. Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets
    Vladimir Dinets 3 months ago

    If you hear a tourist in Africa talk about the Big Five, it immediately tells you that this tourist is a first-time visitor who knows absolutely nothing about wildlife and hasn’t even bothered to read a decent guidebook.

    The original Big Five have never been particularly rare, or difficult to see, or interesting, or even dangerous (hippo and croc are not on the list). They are simply the animals that sometimes (not that often, actually) try to attack people who shot them. The only reason this term hasn’t been rightfully forgotten a long time ago is that many safari guides are pathologically lazy and many tourists are profoundly ignorant.

    Personally, I hate this term and everything it is associated with. Sorry 🙂

    • Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
      shoestringsafari 3 months ago

      Oh Vladimir, I think half of Africa’s tourists get their wildlife info from The Lion King and The Jungle Book. Ex: the tourists who come over asking where they can see tigers.

      The thing with the term itself is that it’s such an iconic one, plus a sizeable portion of people who read what I write are folk who dip their toes into wildlife tourism from time to time so it has to be somewhat relatable.

  15. Profile photo of Eran Tomer
    Eran Tomer 3 months ago

    Like Vladimir Dinets I dislike the “Big Five” concept. A species may be “big” for multiple reasons so a precise definition would help. Factors include:

    – Charisma, based on appearance and behavior.

    – Popularity. Some species are not especially charismatic, but popular. E.g. West Indian Manatee.

    – Taxonomic uniqueness. Some species and families are special because they represent distinct evolutionary branches.

    – Rarity.

    – Difficulty of accessing the species’ range and habitat. Some species aren’t rare but their ranges are tiny and / or remote, and / or feature difficult terrain and weather, and / or occur in countries / sites that restrict access, and / or are dangerous to visit.

    – Difficulty of observing the species in its haunts. Some species aren’t rare again but frustratingly wary and elusive. Others are neither rare nor elusive but highly arboreal in tall canopies, fossorial (burrowing), or otherwise difficult to observe (e.g. certain bats and shrews). And some marine mammals are particularly unobtrusive.

    With this in mind, some quick thoughts:

    * Saola seems to fit all the above criteria. Large-antlered / Giant Muntjac is close.

    * Okapi might be problematic mostly due to access difficulty and perils. It was evidently less elusive in the recent past as researchers have studied it in the field.

    * Many smaller African mammals would be very difficult to see. Giant Otter Shrew, the Golden Pottos and the two African Linsangs have been mentioned but the list is longer. Examples: Liberian Mongoose, some Golden Moles, possibly Water Chevrotain, some Anomaluridae species (e.g. Idiurus zenkeri, Idiurus macrotis and Anomalurus derbianus), some Galagos (e.g. Angolan Dwarf Galago, Rondo Dwarf Galago, Bioko Allen’s Bushbaby, Makende Squirrel Galago, possibly Thomas’ Bushbaby).

    * Madagascar also hosts some highly elusive species, like certain tenrecs and lemurs. And how many people have ever seen either species of Falanouc ?

    * Some small mammlas of southeast Asia and especially the Malay Archipelago would be highly challenging to access and view. Example: Vietnamese and Williamson’s Mouse-deer. Same for a few central and eastern Asian species. Example: Ili Pika.

    * In Australia, Northern and Southern Marsupial Moles would probably be very difficult. In New Guinea, surely Attenborough’s Long-beaked Echidna would be tough. Same for some of the rare marsupials in both places, e.g. certain Tree-kangaroos.

    * The most difficult cetaceans to see would be three beaked whales: Spade-toothed, Perrin’s, and Deraniyagala’s. These are known only from a few stranded specimen and less than 10 observations combined (as far as I know; please correct me if wrong). Longman’s and Shepherd’s / Tasman Beaked Whales are just slightly more findable but still exceedingly difficult. Some other cetaceans are less `extreme’ but still highly elusive, e.g. many Mesoplodon beaked whales, evidently Spectacled and Burmeister’s Porpoises, Pygmy Right Whale, to a lesser extent Franciscana.

    * Finally, Kakapo is far from being the world’s most endangered or rarest bird. No single species qualifies. Approximately 50 bird species have “ghost status” and some of these may be extinct, though this cannot yet be ascertained. Quite a few others are either strikingly rare, and / or maddeningly elusive, and / or have ranges that are difficult / dangerous to access or explore.

    – Eran Tomer

  16. Jens Krause 3 months ago

    Surely the unicorn is missing – would be top of my list 🙂

    • Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
      shoestringsafari 3 months ago

      Haha, come to Scotland, we’ve got plenty! And I’ll show you Nessie while we’re at it!

  17. Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets
    Vladimir Dinets 3 months ago

    BTW, the last sight records of saola were in the winter of 2017-2018, and the last documented record in 2013, despite constant searches, camera trapping efforts, and heavy hunting throughout the range (at least in national parks, sightings by hunters tended to be reported eventually).

  18. Laurent Morin 3 months ago

    The Mainland Clouded Leopard gets my vote, based on my limited knowledge.

  19. Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
    shoestringsafari 3 months ago

    Folks, I’ve had a slight change of heart: as the original big 5 would never have gained the traction it did if the stuff on it was borderline impossible to hunt, I’m going to make it that it has to be just a little bit findable in the wild (with the relevant title change) – so, significant apologies to anybody who has submitted comments based on that, especially to Eran Tomer for the amount of effort you clearly put into your comment.

    I agree with the comments saying they have to be somewhat iconic too. Might put stuff like the saola and Sumatran rhino as honorary mentions and might also do the same with the okapi. As for the list itself, contenders I might add based on suggestions plus what I’ve mentioned include:
    -Pygmy hippo
    -Bactrian camel
    -Mainland clouded leopard
    -Pangolins in general – no doubt the most controversial suggestion, since the original big 5 did not specify between white or black rhino broader families are allowed on here. I’m trying to find out what the “easiest” pangolin to find would be and how easy that would be, if anybody has any pointers that would be much appreciated.

  20. Ian Thompson 3 months ago

    Hi Shaun,
    I posted a trip report on mammal-watching.com in 2018 in which we saw two species of pangolin in Ghana. Jon’s Gabon trip report from 2018 gives two locations where we saw Giant Pangolin. Potentially Ground Pangolin might be the easiest – apparently they can be seen in some of the private reserves west of Kruger in South Africa.
    My own criteria for hardest to see would be the following. If I can come up with a plan that would have a reasonable chance of producing a sighting in a couple of weeks of hard work then the mammal doesn’t qualify. Even for Okapi one could plan to get to Epulu, hire some trackers and eventually find one, although not currently doable due to the political situation. For something like Saola, most Mesoplodon species or West African Oyan, I can’t even come up with a realistic plan that would give one a reasonable chance of a sighting.

    • Profile photo of shoestringsafari Author
      shoestringsafari 3 months ago

      Hi Ian,
      Good tips on the pangolins, just finished reading your Ghana report and others, the country certainly seems to be a hotspot for them! (relatively speaking)

      Interesting criteria, I’d probably modify it to be a one week limit myself. But to each their own!

      • Profile photo of tomeslice
        tomeslice 3 months ago

        Re: Pangolins – Sangha lodge should find you 2 species: black bellied & white bellied
        Ground/Temminck’s/Cape Pangolin is findable for a LOT OF MONEY at Tswalu Kalahari, in addition to Ian’s note, and in at least one place in Namibia (can’t remember the name).
        I wonder if Jon’s 2 encounters in Gabon will turn out being insane coincidence or if they’re actually reliable. Regardless, Jon did mention someone was going to collar a giant pangolin so perhaps one would be trackable.

        In singapore, Sunda Pangolin should be findable (even though Jason Woolgar and I gave it a few shots but didn’t get lucky) and perhaps Pakke Tiger Reserve would be the place to look for Chinese Pangolin, if it was ever opened for night game drives. I have nothing specific on Indian pangolins (except try in Sri Lanka) and nothing on Palawan Pangolin…

        • Jon Hall 3 months ago

          Tomer: David at Lope now has at least on Giant Pangolin collared. Quite how easy it is to see is a different story – there is a high density of rather aggressive elephants in the forest there and they are not the best things to run into at night.

          Very interesting on the otter shrew. I suspect they are a bit easier to see than Desmans. It is mainly about finding the right place to look. And I would love to see one.

  21. Profile photo of tomeslice
    tomeslice 3 months ago

    Hey everyone!
    I’m late to the party, but I figured I’d join anyway 🙂

    I have 2 separate thoughts – the first one about the “Big 5” and the second one about the Giant Otter Shrew, which I have seen mentioned here a few times, and I have some thoughts on.

    Re: Big 5 – So the first time I visited Africa I wouldn’t have gone home happy if I hadn’t at least seen the original “Big 5”. I think in the same way, “Mammal Watching Big 5” are the animals I couldn’t die happy if I never saw. Once you saw these, you can take a deep breath, and start looking for the smaller/rarer stuff, knowing at least you wouldn’t walk around, not having seen the “main events”.
    To me, these are:
    1. Tiger
    2. Giant Panda
    3. Mountain Gorillas
    4. Polar Bear
    5. Jaguar

    They’re like the animals that even regular people would love to see your pictured of. Despite my deep affection with Okapi, Bay Cat, Sumatran Rhino (which I’ve tried to find 3 times even before ever seeing a tiger) Giant Pangolin or the Tenkile, I personally would stick with my original “Big 5” list. Of course that’s just me.
    —-
    And regarding Giant Otter Shrew:
    So I was recently in Uganda and (Spoiler) we didn’t see a Giant Otter Shrew. But we did do some reading, asked around, and even staked out a potential stream for an insufficiently short amount of time, and only saw a ‘regular’ spot-necked otter…
    BUT(!)
    I think the main reason people don’t see a giant otter shrew is because it’s such a niche animal (nocturnal, strictly living stream-side and pretty shy, especially to light) and people don’t usually go staking out this species. Of course it’s not an animal you would randomly see while spotlighting, and since in most habitats where giant otter shrew occurs contain high densities of sought-after species that most people would rather spend their time trying to find, the result is 0 reports with giant otter shrew.

    But based on Alex and I’s on-site + online research, it sounds like similarly to pygmy hippo – of the next 5 people who go out specifically trying to find one, I bet at least 1 will find them. Apparently once you find a stream with signs and potentially a den, a giant otter shew will go up and down the same stream every night – swimming downstream and stopping frequently on exposed banks to eat, groom and even play, and them upon reaching the end of its trail (800 meters down a stream in a night?) it will run back up alongside the stream on land, back to its den. It sounds like one would have to stay silent and use the thermal imager until one is pretty sure he’s got one, and follow it until it goes on the bank. Then prepare mentally, turn on the spotlight, and have a friend take a picture for proof.. or just enjoy the sighting. I know it sounds like an exact description of Jon and Charles’s pygmy hippo encounter, but from our research it sounds like this would be the way to go.
    What do people think? Do you agree?

    Cheers!
    Tomer

    • Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets
      Vladimir Dinets 3 months ago

      tomeslice: I also thought giant otter shrew would be easy if you focused on it. Spent a lot of time waiting at a seemingly appropriate stream at Sangha Lodge, and possibly saw one but still not sure about the ID – it was too far away to see well. Apparently it spends little time out of its den, and mostly travels underwater, because I know a few other people who tried looking for it and never got a decent sighting. I’ve never seen a photo taken in the wild.

  22. Morgan Churchill 3 months ago

    I’d be hesitant myself to publicly list any location in Asia that is good for Pangolins. I think they are just too vulnerable to exploitation.

  23. Morgan Churchill 3 months ago

    To me big five is almost impossible to nail down on a global level. I could probably come up with one for each of the major continents however. To me they are critters you would absolutely build a trip around if that was your only chance to visit an area. Which for some of us is often the case. I neither have the income or free time to plan expeditions for otter shrews or Okapi, no matter how awesome I think it would be to see one.

    I’d say for North America (excluding Arctic and marine mammals) it would probably be:

    Wolf (pick your taxonomy)
    Grizzly Bear
    Mountain Lion
    Canadian Lynx
    American Bison

    I know some of these are not that hard and even easy at specific places, but to me they are super interesting creatures which I first think of when I think North American Mammals. If you wanted to more finely calibrate for rarity, I would probably go with this:

    Red Wolf
    Mountain Lion
    Canadian Lynx
    Fisher
    Black-footed Ferret

  24. Rob Foster 3 months ago

    Yes, it might be worth a blog series rather than a one-off.

    Seeing “The Big Five” is already marketed for other destinations such as South America i.e., Maned Wolf, Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, Lowland Tapir (with Anaconda and/or Andean Bear sometimes as replacements) and even lowly Manitoba i.e., Beluga, Polar Bear, Black Bear, Moose, Plains Bison…..

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