BEST MAMMALS OF THE WORLD
choices 21–30
#
Species
[range]
Photo/art [see credits]
all photos taken in wild unless stated
Reason for choice
DR seen?
21
Lion
Panthera leo
[Africa & s. India]
The "King of Beasts" is the top predator of the African veldt. It is so familiar and yet, upon encountering one in the wild, so awe inspiring. Numbers have been in decline but it is still easy to see in African national parks and at its one Asian stronghold in the Gir Forest of s. India.
Yes
22
Aardvark
Orycteropus afer
[Africa]
Entirely nocturnal and almost never seen, Aardvark is so unique it is placed in its own Order, Tubulidentata. It feeds entirely on termites and ants, and digs burrows for sleeping during the day. Surprisingly large (size of German shephard dog), it is very memorable to encounter one in the wild.
Yes
23
Chimpanzee
Pan troglodytes
[c. Africa]
Genetically our closest relatives, Chimpanzees are almost too well known from Hollywood or research. But wild chimps are usually hard to find (but not so hard to hear) in the lowland forests of central Africa. They make sleeping nests but move sites daily. Their social system provides insights into our own ancestry.
Yes
24
Pygmy Hippopotamus
Choeropsis liberiensis
[west Africa]
Very rare and local, most remaining populations (estimated at >3000) survive in Liberia or adjacent countries (Nigerian subspecies thought extinct). In behavior it is more like a tapir than a hippo, spending much time inside the forest but swimming often.
No
25
Indri
Indri indri
[e. Madagascar]
The largest of Madagascar's lemurs, the Indri is nearly tail-less but lives in the canopy. The antiphonal haunting calls are a real forest experience. Their range is now fragmented as numbers decline; the Perinet Reserve was established to help save them. There are about a dozen very colorful lemurs (patterns of black, white, red or orange) in Madagascar.
Yes
26
Giant Anteater
Myrmecophaga tridactyla
[s. Central & South America]
Although its range is broad, this unlikely combination of tail and snout is elusive and its numbers are relatively small, reaching highest densities in remote undisturbed pampas. It is the strangest beast in the New World.
Yes
27
Saola
Pseudoryx nghetinhensis
[Vietnam/Laos]
Not discovered until 1992, sometimes called "Vu Quang ox," this is a mysterious forest bovid confined to the Annamite Mts. on the Vietnam/Laos border. Genetic evidence shows it more closely related to nilghai than to cows. Only about a dozen have been found so far (photo is from a 'camera trap'). Like Okapi, this is a large and wondrous forest animal.
No
28
any Tapir
Tapirus sp.
[Neotropics & tropical Asia]
Any tapir is a treat. The size of a donkey, they are generally elusive in the dense jungle. Brazilian T. terrestris (left) is the most common & widespread. Mountain T. pinchaque & Baird's T. bairdii are also in the Neotropics but both are endangered. The black-and-white Malayan T. indicus is very rare in s.e. Asia.
Yes; 1 of 4
29
African Wild Dog
Lycaon pictus
[Africa]
Sometimes called "Cape Hunting Dog" of "Painted Wolf," this pack predator was once common and widespread. Habitat loss, hunting, and disease have reduced the extant population to a very few remote pockets. The pack hunting techniques are very impressive.
Yes
30
Fossa
Cryptoprocta ferox
[Madagascar]
This is the largest predator in Madagascar, and the largest in the recently recognized family Eupleridae, the Madagascar carnivores. It can be diurnal or nocturnal, and is a forest mammals that is everywhere scarce and often declining.
No

Links to all of the "top 50"

or

RESOURCES & CREDITS

FURTHER READING:
This is not an exhaustive bibliography but rather personal choices of books, mostly in the popular literature genre, but all fact-based and well-written. I do not have favorite literature for all species, but for these see:

* For Lion: There are hundreds of books. So far I've most enjoyed the stories of lion research in Botswana in Mark & Delia Owens' (1984) Cry of the Kalahari: Seven Years in Africa's Last Great Wilderness [Mark Owens' project was on lions; Delia Owens was working on the elusive and little known Brown Hyena]. A good natural history is George Schaller's (1976) Serengeti Lion: a Study of Predator-Prey Relations, and I enjoyed Craig Packer's stories of working on the Serengeti lion project in Into Africa (1994).

* For Chimpanzee: Obviously, the popular works are Jane Goodall's (1967) My Friends the Wild Chimpanzees and her (1996) My Life with the Chimpanzees, both accounts of her field work, and then her more formal natural history in the (1980) The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. I also enjoyed Craig Packer's (1994) stories of working with her at Gombe in Into Africa.

* For African Wild Dog, several good stories are in Mark & Delia Owens' (1984) Cry of the Kalahari: Seven Years in Africa's Last Great Wilderness.

CREDITS:
All artworks are copyrighted by the artist (as detailed below) and are either used with permission or are posted here in reliance on the non-commercial "fair use" doctrine; all rights are reserved by the artist

* Toni Llobet painted the Fossa (from Handbook of the Mammals of the World, Vol. 1)

All the photographs are copyrighted by the photographer (as detailed below) and are used with permission; all rights are reserved to the photographer

* Rita Carratello photographed Aardvark (South Africa; this is a video capture)
* Don Roberson photographed Lion (Tanzania), Chimpanzee (Uganda), Indri (Madagascar), Giant Anteaster (Brazil), and Brazilian Tapir (Brazil).
* African Wild Dog photo is from Wikipedia (unattributed)
* Saola is from a 'camera trap' and published by IUZN (unattributed)

TOP
Page created 1-6 June 2002, updated 20 Aug 2002, revised 29 Aug 2010
all photos & text © Don Roberson
HOME