Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: False gharial (tomistoma)

Nominated by: IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Why do you love it? The tomistoma is a unique, mound-nesting crocodilian with extremely long-slender jaws.  It is among the largest of the extant crocodilians, with males attaining lengths of more than five metres.  It is restricted primarily to lowland swamps, lakes and rivers.  Most records are from peat swamp and freshwater swamp forest which historically encompassed most of the lowlands of Borneo, eastern Sumatra, and Peninsular Malaysia. This species produces the largest eggs of all living crocodilians.  Despite is extremely large size, incidents of conflict with humans are rare.  Adults maintain the bright coloration that is characteristic of juveniles and this is one of only a few species of crocodilians that have the ability to change the colour of the scales.  This appears to be a juvenile trait that is only recently being studied by scientists.  Juveniles have the ability to change the colour of their ventral scales from yellow to grey and at the same time lighten or darken the color of their dorsal scales.

What are the threats to the tomistoma? Although this species was hunted for its skin in the 1950’s and 60’s, demand for its skin declined in more recent decades due to the  presence of osteoderms in its ventral scales.  The greatest immediate threat to the tomistoma’s survival is loss of or degradation to the peat swamp and fresh-water swamp forest upon which this species depends.  This has been caused by logging and also large scale burning related to the development and expansion of oil palm plantations.  Mining activities and overfishing may also be having a negative impact on this species, as well as the incidental capture of juveniles in fish traps.

What are you doing to save it? In 2003, the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group established a Tomistoma Task Force (CSG-TTF) which has been dedicated, since that time, to quantifying the status of this species in the wild, identifying threats to which they are exposed, and to promoting such actions in cooperation with range States and others as may be deemed appropriate for achieving sustainable conservation benefits for this species.  The CSG-TTF has organised and also funded status surveys and ecological studies of this species in many parts of its range in both Malaysia and Indonesia.

Recently the CSG’s Tomistoma Task Force has begun organising a wildlife awareness day called “World Tomistoma Day.”  A number of international events designed to promote awareness of and support for conservation of this species will be held on or around August 5, 2016.

As one of the world’s least known and studied crocodilians, tomistomas need all the love it can get!

Find out more about the IUCN Crocodile SG

Discover more crocodilians on Arkive