Vijayawada

Smooth-coated Otter, a new enemy of aqua farmers

Smooth –coated Otters sighted on the Krishna river bed at Oleru in Guntur district.

Smooth –coated Otters sighted on the Krishna river bed at Oleru in Guntur district.   | Photo Credit: BY ARRANGEMENT

The animal has been observed in large numbers in and around Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary

The increase in the Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) population in Krishna and Guntur districts does not bring cheer to aqua farmers, who are desperately geared up to hunt the wild animal to save their Vannamei production.

The Smooth-coated Otter, distributed throughout South Asia and South East Asia, has been observed in large numbers in recent years in and around the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary as well as riverbed of Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.

On Friday, a group of Vannamei farmers from Nagayalanka told The Hindu that each otter eats up at least four kg of Vannamei in one night. Accompanied by the same family, the otter mostly prefers to raid the aqua ponds during night and spend the day in the estuary, riverbed, swamp and mangrove forest. The local farmers said the sighting of the Smooth-coated Otter has become regular.

Hunting

According to a group of local wetland researchers, at least 30 Smooth-coated Otters were hunted by the aqua farmers in and around Lankevennudibba between 2004 and 2005 in Krishna and Guntur border areas, while the Otters were preying on the Vannamei/Tiger prawn.

However, there was one report of hunting the Otter in the same area last year. “We have documented presence of the Smooth-coated Otter along the riverbed of Krishna in 2016. Since then, we have seen the otters moving as a group,” said Allaparthi Appa Rao, a wetland researcher. Of late, there is a need for a survey to estimate the population of the Smooth-coated Otter and geo-tagging of the areas in which the wild animal is thriving.

Solution

“We will swing into action to prevent hunting of the Smooth-coated Otter, exploring an amicable solution to the man-animal conflict,” Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife) Saibaba said.

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Printable version | May 31, 2020 3:45:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/smooth-coated-otter-a-new-enemy-of-aqua-farmers/article19520331.ece

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