The race to become crowned as the World’s Most Unloved Species was hotly contested, once again, this year with 19 nominated species in the running. After 12 days of fierce competition, impassioned pitches and over 4,500 votes, the top 10 was announced on Valentine’s Day.
But slithering into first place… it’s the Galapagos racer!
Often demonised, the Galapagos racer shot to fame during the BBC’s 2016 series Planet Earth II. They are one of a few endemic snakes found in the Galapagos and can grow to a maximum of 125 centimetres. However, little is known about the Galapagos racer and there is even confusion over the number of species or subspecies of racer snakes found in the Galapagos. The Galapagos racer is already locally extinct on Floreana Island and are threatened following the introduction of cats and pigs onto neighbouring islands which forage for their eggs.
All the nominated species are worthy winners, and were chosen as they are often overshadowed and overlooked by the more cute, handsome and (supposedly) interesting members of the natural world. But which species pulled at the public’s heartstrings the most and made it into the top 10? Here’s a quick rundown:
Wombling into second place, it’s the bare-nosed wombat. Also known as the ‘common wombat’ this furry marsupial may no longer be as ‘common’ as its namesake suggests, as the population battles an increasing number of fatal road strikes and the deadly skin condition mange.
Flying into third, and in the highest place a bird has had in this contest, it’s the lappet-faced vulture. Definitely not noted for their cuddly nature, these birds have been known to take on jackals to defend a carcass!
In fourth place we dive underneath the waves with the first shark to enter the top 10! The shortfin mako is a speed machine, capable of reaching 35 kilometres an hour and even having the power to launch itself clear out of the water.
At number five we have the Asian elephant. Despite having had a close relationship with man over the centuries these giants are facing a number of threats including poaching and habitat loss, and are often overlooked by their larger African relatives.
Hopping into the top 10 at number six is the common toad. Firmly rooted in English folklore and culture this gardener’s friend is another species with an unfortunate name as populations have taken a dramatic downturn declining by 68% over the last 30 years.
The ‘lucky number seven’ spot is taken by the red squirrel. However this iconic species is not so lucky, facing habitat fragmentations, disease and competition with the grey squirrel, introduced into the UK in the 1870s.
Coming up in eighth place is the aye-aye. Not known for its dashing good looks, this primate has been considered an omen of bad luck resulting in persecution by the Malagasy people!
Looking fine at nine is the Copan brook frog. The second amphibian in the top 10, this tiny frog could be easily hidden if it wasn’t for its bright, lime green colouration.
And last but by no means least, it’s the blue shark. This sleek apex predator is instantly recognisable as it moves gracefully through the water however it is one of the most heavily fished sharks in the world, with an estimated 15-20 million caught every year.
To find out more about these species and the work being done to research and conserve them, visit the results page here.