Two-month-old pups are susceptible to attack from community dogs or humans

A pair of fresh water Otter puppies which strayed from their habitat near Hogenakkal area in Dharmapuri district, was brought to the Vandalur zoo on Tuesday.

Wildlife officials said the two-month-old pups were susceptible to attack from the community dogs or humans.

In 2010, the then Chief Wildlife Warden had written a letter to the District Forest Officer, Dharmapuri, stating that straying Otters should be rescued and sent to the Vandalur zoo as the zoo had only a single male animal as its exhibit.

A senior officer from the Forest Department said that following this letter a Biologist came from the Vandalur zoo on Monday in an animal rescue ambulance.

Wildlife authorities said they would hand-rear them in the zoo. Once they are fit, they will be released back into the wild. At the zoo, the authorities have created a den in the veterinary hospital, where the pups now rest. It will take at least a couple of months for them to permanently make a water body their home.

When contacted, a senior wildlife officer said even the Central Zoo Authority of India (CZAI), the monitoring authority for the zoos in the country, did not subscribe to collecting specimen from the wild and exhibiting them in captivity in a zoo.

Shocked by the action of the wildlife authorities, naturalists said it was a gross violation of rules.

E. Seshan, a Chennai-based wildlife activist said: “We came to know Otters were caught in wild from Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary from the river and sent to Vandalur Zoo. Otters are aquatic mammals and predators in the river. Presence of Otters is an indication of pollution-free water, healthy aquatic life and well guarded forests.

Otters predate on fishes, crabs, oysters, lobsters, prawns and snakes and are graded high on aquatic food chain.”

They are also categorised under endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Natural Flora and Fauna and the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 had categorised the animal under Schedule II.

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