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| Last Updated:: 30/05/2017

Smooth-coated Otter found in Roerich estate











Bengaluru: In news to cheer for the wildlife lovers in Bengaluru, a smooth-coated otter (Neeru nayi in Kannada) has been spotted in the forests of Roerich Estate on Kanakapura road. The image of the rare species moving has been captured on the camera set by environmentalist Sanjay Gubbi and his team Nature Conservation Foundation to monitor leopard populations in the forests adjoining Bengaluru city. 




The Roerich Estate is surrounded by BM Kaval Reserved Forests, and a large patch of deemed forests of nearly 2,000 acres that connects to Bannerghatta National Park. 




The otter was camera trapped two days ago on a forest trail about 700 meters from the Vaderahalli kere. This highlights the importance of conserving the forests of this area and also the lakes found in these forests. 




This is the third such interesting discovery under this project that included that the first ever documentation of honey badger for Karnataka, discovering of the Chinkara in Tumkur district, and now the otter in Bangalore which has never been documented so close to the city. 




The presence of Lutrogale Perspicillata, (the scientific name of the smooth-coated otter) comes as a surprise for both researchers and the forest department. Deepika Bajpai, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bengaluru Urban says "Though we were aware of the presence of wildlife in this area, I am extremely happy about the documentation of this species within our division. I would rate this as one of the rare findings considering the fact that Bengaluru is the third most populated city in the country". 




The smooth-coated otter inhabits rivers, large lakes and reservoirs. It primarily feeds on fishes, but supplements its diet with shrimp or crayfish, crab and insects, and other vertebrates such as frog, mudskippers, birds and rats. They are primarily threatened by loss of habitat due to loss of wetlands due to reclamation of wetlands for settlements, and agriculture, construction of hydroelectric projects, poaching, and contamination of waterways by pesticides. 




They are categorized as Vulnerable with a declining trend by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and protected under the Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972. 





"There could be more" 





"Though we got only one individual in the camera trap, I guess there could be more than one individual as these are sociable animals" says Sanjay Gubbi lead scientist of the research project. 




The camera trapping has been conducted in collaboration with the forest department as part of the research on leopards to understand their distribution, abundance, human-leopard conflict, and other issues. Perhaps Bangalore could be the only metro in the country that now has otter at such close proximity which is now almost within the city limits. 




The team includes Ravindra N, Assistant Conservator of Forests, forest staff, Poornesha HC, Sharath T, Ashritha Anoop and others.








Source: The Times of India