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: Malagasy jumping rat

Nominated by: IUCN Small Mammal Specialist Group

Conservation status: Endangered

Why do you love it? Lemurs often steal the limelight when it comes to talking about wildlife in Madagascar, but there are a lot of other weird and wonderful animals there, including one from our Specialist Group- the giant jumping rat! This rabbit-like mammal has long pointed ears and elongated hindlegs and large hind feet that allow it to leap almost a metre into the air. It bears little resemblance to its better known rodent cousins, having been isolated on the island of Madagascar for much of its evolutionary history: indeed, it is ranked number 80 on the EDGE mammals list because of its quirkiness and Endangered status. Unusually for rodents, they form monogamous lifelong pair bonds….what could be more romantic for St. Valentine’s Day?

What are the threats to the jumping rat?Unlike most rodents, this species has a slow pace of life, with females having just one or two offspring per year. This extremely low reproductive rate means that it is not able to recover quickly if affected by threats. It is particularly vulnerable to predation by dogs, and to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by logging activity, slash-and-burn agriculture, and charcoal production that is occurring throughout its range. There are currently two subpopulations which are confined to small forest fragments on the west coast of Madagascar.

What are you doing to save it? The key role of the Small Mammal SG for this species is to undertake the Red List reassessment. We are looking for research which has taken place since 2008, which was the last time it was assessed and listed as Endangered. In addition to this information gathering we are contacting experts on the giant jumping rat in Madagascar and internationally to assist us with deciding on the most appropriate Red List category and criteria.

Conservation actions on the ground include using sustainable forestry techniques to enable the species’ survival in the Kirindy Forest, a government-owned forest concession. Research into the behavioural ecology of this species has been carried out for a number of years at the research station of the German Primate Centre in the Kirindy Forest. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT) is working with the local Malagasy to conduct detailed surveys into the status and threats facing the wild population. It is also involved in a community education programme which aims to raise awareness of conserving the species’ forest habitat, and is working to get a part of the species’ remaining habitat declared an official protected reserve. In 1990, DWCT established a captive breeding programme which has proved successful. The coordinated international efforts of DWCT plus 16 other institutions has resulted in an established ‘safety net’ population.

Find out more about the work of the Small Mammal SG

Discover more rodent species on Arkive