Some mammals are streaking ahead of their rivals, while others are in a neck-and-neck race after two weeks of voting for the 2022 Australian Mammal of the Year.
A partnership of Cosmos Magazine and Australian Community Media, the Australian Mammal of the Year is one of the most important – and charismatic – contests being run this year, as Aussies have their say on their favourite warm-blooded, live-birthing vertebrates.
The platypus has skipped ahead atop the leaderboard of the ‘Australian Icons’ category – having already drawn 1 in 4 votes ahead of the numbat and short-beaked echidna.
And although they adorn souvenir booths around the country, the koala and kangaroos languish at the bottom of the table.
Things are very close in the ‘Bats’ category, with a tight battle for top spot between the grey-headed flying-fox, spectacled flying-fox and ghost bat all within 25 votes of each other.
The southern bent wing bat and little forest bat are also flapping hard to remain in the mix – each receiving at least 1 in 10 votes cast so far.
It’s a similar story in the macropods category – where Western Australia’s unofficial marsupial mascot the quokka currently leads.
But it’s seen a marked drop in form over the last week, with Gilbert’s potoroo jumping into second place with a big vote haul. Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo and the long-nosed potoroo are also firmly in the top four.
The wallabies will be hoping their rugby-playing namesakes have better form on the pitch when they take on Argentina in a few weeks time, because they’re unable to win over the hearts of Australians on the macropod leaderboard so far – the swamp, brush-tailed and yellow-footed rock wallabies are all losing touch with the leaders.
There’s a another close battle for the lead among the possums as well, with the sugar glider holding strong at the top of the table over the mountain pygmy possum, southern greater glider and leadbeater’s possum.
Australia’s bandicoots need a helping hand in the ‘Burrowers’ category – three species are trailing their fellow diggers, with only the eastern barred bandicoot challenging the front-running greater bilby and southern hairy-nosed wombat.
Meanwhile the Tasmanian devil has raced up the standings of the Dasyurid category – jumping into the top two behind the northern quoll. But the quolls currently occupy three of the top four places in this category, with the remaining pack of phascogales, antechinuses and dunnarts falling off the pace after two weeks.
And in the rodents category, where the rakali (Australian water rat) has built a commanding lead over its competition. It’s drawn 34% of the vote in this category after two weeks. A shoutout for our range of rodents – not a group that we naturally love, but there are some stylish and seductive lesser-known species trying to win your hearts and votes in the candidate list.
The dugong is performing even better – having earned 37% of the vote over its fellow marine mammals, including well-known rivals such as the southern right, humpback killer and blue whales, Australian sea lion and fur seals, and snubfin and humpback dolphins.
Voting to find Australia’s top ten favourites for the final countdown for Australian Mammal of the Year continues until August 11. Learn more and vote here and Australian Community Media mastheads online.
Matthew Agius is a science writer for Cosmos Magazine.
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