I’ve been thinking of how one could make a friendly mammal watching competition were you have to watch in the country you live in that is relativly fair no matter were you live and making the results between countries comparable. It can’t be how many species you see as the diversity is much higher in eg. Kenya than Denmark. Making it a percentage might not be the best way either as if you live in a small country with few species reaching a high percentage is much easier than in a large country with many widespread species. Does any of you clever people in here have a good idea???


Lars Michael


  • Jon Hall

    I have been thinking about this but haven’t come up with anything Lars… basically you would need a set of ratings for all countries, just like golf courses are rated “Par 72” or whatever… so they are comparable even if differently difficult. But ecosystems and the mammals they support vary much more than golf courses so its a tricky one. Maybe each country could agree on three mega mammals and then the conpetition would be for observers go out and see how quickly they can find one of them. That could be, for example, a Ground Pangolin in Kenya, vs Mountain Lion in the continental US, vs (I have no idea) in Denmark ..

  • Vladimir Dinets

    Too many variables. The only way to do this would be to run national competitions first (or provincial/state competitions in large countries) and then have all local champions meet at one location for the finals. But that would have to be a location in a country with no national champion, and a place no participant has visited before, so that nobody gets unfair advantage due to prior experience. There would also have to be strict rules, like no airplane rentals, no thermal scopes etc., to make it more fair.

  • Morten Hansen

    I’m in favour of national competitions only – like the annual lists they have performed the last 4-5 years in Finland. As Vladimir mentions there are too many variables to meet if we try to compare between the countries. The Finnish mammal watchers have made a set of rules described here earlier. It has inspired me to try something similar in Denmark – but so far only some thoughts about it…

    In the Danish birdwatcher community a new concept to the funny side has been tried since 2019. In this annual competition you have to see a certain number of species by the end of each month determined by the number of days. If you fail to see 30 species by the end of January or 60 by the end of February and so on you will be called “off side” and sent of the court for the remaining part of the year 🙂 Usually the champ will be found sometime in October or November. Maybe something similar can be set up with mammals – off course with far less (country specific) species. But at the end of the day (or year!) I prefer to go for national annual list competitions only.

  • JanEbr

    I am afraid that the only fair competition is in a given area. It’s like in birding (yes, I am a birder, I am sorry about that, please Jon don’t ban me :)) where people don’t compare their country list between different countries – well, to be honest, we have recently have had a discussion on the percentage of birds people have seen in their country and it turned out to be pretty comparable among European countries, but that’s bound to fail worldwide as well.

    But what turned out to work really well in birding is larger areas. Obviously, there is the natural worldwide competition, but what I really came to love is the Western Palearctic one – it’s the perfect sweet point which for me solves both the problems of country listing (my country is small, a bit ugly, and listing there is more about personal contacts to get the info on rarities than anything and I also lived out of the country for the last 5 years) and world listing (the world list is too big for my brain to reasonably hold and you can always get a lot of species by just paying a lot of money to go to a weird place). A WP competition allows people from many countries to compete in the same playground, but the entire playground is still within like a 5-hour flight from everyone. We can’t compete with the Americans, that’s a bit sad, but they have their own large area to do the same. (Yes, I admit, one reason I like WP bird listing is that I am currently winning in it in the Czech Republic …)

    So maybe that’s the most sensible thing? For mammals, country listing is even more depressing than for birds, listing mammals in the Czech Republic is an activity that becomes old very quickly (while after the first month of getting the easy things you spend years trying to get the few hard species), but WP as a whole is an absolute safari.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    I never thought I’d see anyone refer to Czech Republic as “ugly”.

    • JanEbr

      Because people only go to the nice parts 🙂 But the truth is that a large part of the country suffers from intensive agriculture with large uninterrupted fields of rapeseed, wheat and corn and another part for single-species forestry harvested by clear felling. All the rivers are regulated into straight lines and there is a village everywhere. It’s simply not very good for animals – there are some efforts to improve it, but it goes slowly and with resistance. Yes, we now have a few lynxes and wolves, but they are incredibly hard to see and only in very specific areas (the wolves for example live to a large extent in an area that was occupied by the Soviet army for 20 years and is thus now mostly uninhabited), we do also have some interesting small rodents and shrews, so it’s not entirely boring, but now that I lived in Poland for 5 years and have seen how the same landscape can look when it’s not swarming with people, my views of my own country changed a lot.

      • Vladimir Dinets

        Weird, Czech Republic and Poland have nearly the same population density. Did Czech Republic somehow avoid the pan-European trend of rural depopulation?

        • JanEbr

          Poland is a large country and the population density is really uneven. There are very dense centers, especially the Silesian coal area and then the northeast and east are really unpopulated. The south is in general much like the Czech Republic, also with intensive agriculture, while the northeast is mainly very small lots, with different crops in each, lots of breaks, small patches of forest – simply how central European landscape should look like.

          I think some movement from countryside to cities occured everywhere, but I mean look even at Germany, the countryside is still heavily populated in most parts, so it’s not that unusual, I guess?

          I know this is a bit of a digression, but for this discussion, I think it’s quite useful for people to realize that especially the smaller European countries may not have a lot of continuous nature. I kean I have been just to Spain, which has wildernesses as big as a whole region of the Czech Republic. Sure, those are not completely wild, there is hunting, grazing, etc… but they are at least basically uninhabited.

      • Lars Michael Nielsen

        Jan. That sounds almost like your describing thr danish countryside. AGriculture, agriculture and a littlr more agriculture, forests optimated for logging and streams in ditches…

  • Lars Michael Nielsen

    I guess you’re right that there are two many variables Vladimir. But it would have been fun.

    Well Jon in Denmark it might be Wolf (population estimated to 12 individuals), Northern birch mouse or some kind of Whale. Even thoug wolf might actually be to easy by now as a pair of wild wolves has setteled and bred in a fenced area with opening for cars and pedestrians owned by the Lego family were the they have released native hoofed animals to boost natural grazing and biodiversity. In the middle of the area theres a huge tower mad for the public to overlook the area. The owners have said in public that they are happy that tey are happy to have the wolves there. This is very important and a good thing when “celeberites” coms out with such an oppinion as we have had incidents of “shoot, shovel, shut up” and politicians saying that they whish that the wolves haven recolonised.

    Back to main question:
    Jan, I’m a birder to. started when I was five and i guess many Mammalwatchers started as birders or are both so Jon have to exclude many of us i guess ;D
    I aggree that WP might be a good idea for us living here. Even though im quite sure im not the leader here in DK neither regarding birds or mammals.

    Morten: I’m up for a national competiton, i tried to make one last year with an open google sheet were the attenders could plot in what species they saw. I kvow the Club300 “offside” competition but i guess we would run out of speceis pretty fast here 🙂
    Maby we should get in contact an try to arrange a national competition for 2022? I guess we might at lest have seen each other befor while birding.

  • Jurek

    You could do a different type of competition – online mammal ID quiz from photos. Recently I joined many fun quizzes online, including a rare bird quiz which twitchers moved online. No problem there with different countries and different money at your disposal.

    • Lars Michael Nielsen

      That’s a possibility. Even though you don’t get ou in the field. What quizzez have you done?

      If ther’s money involved i think they shoukd be donated to conservation…

  • Jurek

    The rare bird club did a quiz just of 25 photos and sound recordings which was a Zoom meeting, the presenter shared his screen and people filled a Google form. The prize was a small statue. So low tech. Lots of fun, it was so good to talk wildlife with people.
    And a group of my friends organize a weekly quiz on Kahoot, which is a more formal platform to make quizzes. Topics were everything, I did a quiz about native animals. So it is not difficult to make an online quiz, and lots of fun.

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