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Volume 15 Issue 1 Pages 1 - 67 (April 1998)

Citation: Gil, G. (1998) Distribution and Monitoring of the Neotropical Otter in the El Rey National Park, Salta Province, Argentina. IUCN Otter Spec. Group Bull. 15(1): 56

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Distribution and Monitoring of the Neotropical Otter in the El Rey National Park, Salta Province, Argentina

Guillermo Gil1

Translation from Spanish: Jessica Groenendijk and Frank Hajek

1Delegacioón Técnica Regional Noroeste, Administración de Parques Nacionales. Santa Fe 23, 4400 Salta, Argentina. E-mail : parques@ciunsa.edu.ar

A sampling method was adapted for the detection of the Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis) in the water courses of the Yungas (cloud forest) and transition to Chaco Serrano (semi-xerophytic forest) environments of the National Park, with the objective of determining its distribution and with the intention of monitoring the species over several years. Secondly, habitat data is taken and faeces are collected for their possible analysis.
Based on a proven method, field experience and the suggestions of specialists, a series of data sheets were prepared to be completed during the survey, principally covering habitat data and types of markings encountered. The sampling sites are stretches along river banks, 600 meters in length by 20 meters in width, located every 4 km. The site is positive if at least one marking is found, otherwise it is negative. It is considered preferable to carry out sampling over a large area, every 5 years or so, rather than over a limited area but with a higher frequency. The locating of dens is important as these are sites which deserve protection or special monitoring.

Once the project had been formulated, it was put into practice in the field and 15 sites were surveyed between August and November 1997, which, together with 2 trial sites, totals 16 positive and 1 negative result. In general, evidence of otter presence was abundant. A second phase of the project is planned in order to complete the first batch of sites monitored and then ensure continuity of this monitoring. It is intended to cover, in order of priority; the lower, middle and upper sectors of the sub-watershed encompassed by the park.

The Park rangers support and are being trained by this project. We invite those interested in analysing the scats to contact the above to carry out a joint investigation.

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