Match report: Australian Mammal of the Year 2023 begins with vigorous voting

Voting hasn’t been open for a full week yet and already thousands of people have waded into the middle of the voting battle, clamouring to crown their favourite Australian Mammal of the Year for 2023.

With almost 5,000 votes cast already, some mammals are securing strong initial leads over their rivals, while others are struggling.

Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of the mammal versus mammal contests raging within the 8 voting categories.

In the first of our categories “City Livin’: Urban Neighbours”, the platypus is applying some significant scoreboard pressure, swimming ahead with 28% of the vote. It’s followed closely by the water rat, eastern quoll, sugar glider, and grey-headed flying-fox. Coming in last, the western ringtail possum looks to be heading for early extinction with a measly 2.4% of the vote.

Platypus. Credit: Goddard Photography/Getty Images

In the “Woodland Wanderers” the iconic Western Australian emblems, Gilbert’s Potoroo and numbat, have burst out of the blocks to claim 45% and 15% of the vote, respectively. Will the numbat have what it takes to make it to number one? Or perhaps, we’ll see a surprise comeback from those at the bottom of the rungs: northern bettong (1.8%), New Holland mouse (2.1%), and last year’s winner the southern bent-wing bat (2.5%).

Neck and neck in the “Snow Patrol: Alpine Adventurers” category, the dingo and mountain pygmy possum are scaling the summit. They’re certainly living up to their reputations, having placed second and third in last year’s competition. But what about our new contenders? The short-beaked echidna, bare-nosed wombat, and little forest bat wouldn’t need many votes to knock them from their burrows.

History has repeated itself for everyone’s favourite sea cow, the dugong, capturing first place in the first week with 31% of the vote. Just behind in “Under the Sea: Marine Marvels”, the killer whale is ramming both boats and competitors and gaining on the Australian fur seal’s second place. The undersea underdogs, the false killer whale or southern elephant seal, are still in with a chance!

Photo of an australian fur seal poking its head out from behind a rock
Australian fur seal. Credit: Marcus Salton

The darlings of “Just Deserts: Some Like It Hot” are dominated by the iconic greater bilby and southern hairy-nosed wombat – giants of Australian iconography each with 17% of the vote. The kultarr, the “kul-est” mammal ever, sits in the middle of the pack with 7% while the burrowing bettong has been left in the dust.

Fur is flying in the “Savanna Scurriers” category as the northern hairy-nosed wombat, northern quoll, ghost bat, and black-footed tree-rat duke it out for the majority of the votes. Languishing at the bottom of the ladder, the common rock rat (1.5%) and scaly-tailed possum (2.4%) could do with a little more love.

Tallying up the “Tropical Rainforest Ramblers” reveals the spectacled-flying fox flapping hard in the lead with a spectacular 26% of the vote. Then the tree-kangaroos, both Bennett’s and Lumholtz’s, are bounding up just behind it. But can the bare-backed fruit bat and prehensile-tailed rat in the back put on a turn of speed and make up the difference?

The golden-tipped bat is going for gold in “The Cool South: Forest Fossickers” with 20% of the vote, silver at present for spotted tailed-quoll, and Tasmanian devil holds the bronze for the moment. Close on their fluffy tails are the quokka, Leadbeater’s possum, and koala – let’s see if they manage to steal those medals!

Sebastien comte spotted tailed quoll 1 1 1
Spotted-tailed quoll. Credit: Sebastien Comte

The mammals don’t know what they are fighting for – winning an event like this brings much needed awareness to their need for conservation and for some of the most endangered, the extra support might bring them funds for conservation, landcare restoration and habitat renewal. Others just deserve the adoration.

To ensure your favourite mammal remains standing after the first round, you’ll need to vote early and vote often. This is one competition where the participants can’t do anything to effect their place in the final poll. Visit our voting page here to learn more about the categories and vote, vote, vote!

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