Smooth-coated otter population on the rise

First sighting was made in Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary in 2016

January 12, 2019 12:55 am | Updated 12:55 am IST - MACHILIPATNAM

Presence of healthy and moderately dense mangrove cover and brackish water is serving as suitable habitat for otters.

Presence of healthy and moderately dense mangrove cover and brackish water is serving as suitable habitat for otters.

A family of Indian smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata), including four pups, was sighted in the Krishna estuary, indicating a significant rise in the population. The age of the pups photographed this week is less than one month and they are being groomed in swimming by their mother. In 2016, the Wildlife Management Division (Eluru) documented the presence of otter in and around the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary and the estuary.

The conservation status is ‘vulnerable, ’ according to the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN). Independent researcher and wetland expert A. Venkata Appa Rao documented the pups.

Many breeding grounds

“The record of photographs of the otter is being maintained, listing out the places and its breeding grounds in the estuary. A scientific study to estimate the population is the need of the hour,” Mr. Appa Rao told The Hindu .

The healthy growth of otter population can be attributed to the abundant availability of prey — mostly fish — in its habitat. “I’m curious to share the details of the habitat, holts (nesting site) of the otters with the scientific community to bring out a study. Presence of healthy and moderately dense mangrove cover and brackish water channels are serving as a suitable habitat for the otters,” said Mr. Appa Rao, who works on the restoration of mangrove in Krishna.

Winter is the breeding season of the otters. However, they could be sighted in the estuary in all the seasons.

“There are a few breeding sites along the river Krishna in the Krishna estuary, in which the visitors can document the otter frequently. Disclosing those details may pose a threat to it,” said Mr. Appa Rao striking a note of caution. However, putting a regulated system in place to allow the visitors into these breeding sites would also throw light on the diversity of the estuary, apart from drawing attention the attention of the scientific community.

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