IUCN Red List species status – Near ThreatenedFor the first time in India, scientists have proof and photograph of the presence of the rare Eurasian Otter in India. These mammals were photographed using camera traps in the jungles of Satpura Tiger reserve and Kanha-Pench border of Madhya Pradesh.

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Image by WCT via Indian Express

The photo evidence was obtained between November 2015 and February when Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department (MPFD) undertook a joint camera trapping study across 58 sq.kms in Satpura Hill Range and Kanha-Pench corridor.

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Why is it an important discovery?

The Eurasian otter is also known as the common otter. It has brown fur, sleek body and webbed feet. It can close its ears and nose when under water to prevent water from entering the body.

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An important characteristic of the otter is the short fur which can trap a layer of air and keep the animal’s body insulated. To retain the insulating property of this fur, otters need to keep it clean using fresh water constantly.

Otters also need, fish and frogs to eat.

The presences of these otters in the Satpura reserve therefore proves that the river ecosystem of the region is healthy and is providing the otters the fresh water and food source they need for their survival.

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Image via Scottish Wildlife Trust

Eurasian otters were once widespread in the UK but now have limited population in Europe. The presence of the otters in India assures that the species is thriving here and extends the geographical range of the animal.

WCT said in a statement, “These new photo-records extends their geographical range to central India. The discovery of the Eurasian Otter in the Satpura Tiger Reserve proves the value of large inviolate protected areas in conserving bio-diversity. The presence of the rare species in the Kanha Pench corridor also proves the value of connected landscapes for highly endangered species such as gaur, wild dogs, leopards and now the Eurasian Otter.”

“After we obtained the evidence through camera trapping, we followed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and confirmed that the photographs were indeed first proof of the presence of Eurasian Otters from India. The otters were found in highland streams in the Satpura reserve,” said Milind Pariwakam, wildlife biologist, central Indian landscape programme, WCT

“This is an exciting discovery that was made as part of the study on tigers in these forests. It is an indication of a healthy ecosystem and biodiversity,” said Ramesh Pratap Singh, former field director, Satpura Tiger Reserve and additional principal chief conservator of forest, wildlife protection.

Established in 1999, Satpura Tiger Reserve is located in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 2133.30 km2. . It comprises of Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Satpura National Park and Bori Wildlife Sanctuary and supports a large number of ethno-medicinal flora and faunal diversity.

Satpura is also one of the most rugged landscapes in central India, with steep mountains and deep gorges, this is among the less explored tiger reserves of India harbouring several rare bird species as well.

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Featured Image via mammal.org.uk

About Atula Gupta

Atula Gupta is the Founder and Editor of indiasendangered.com. Her work has appeared in a number of international websites, dailies and magazines including The Wire, Deccan Herald, New Indian Express, Down to Earth and Heritage India on issues related to environment and its conservation. She is also the author of Environment Science Essentials, a set of books for school children. She hopes this website provides a platform for people to be aware about species in the verge of extinction and heighten their conservation efforts.

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