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IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin

©IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group

Volume 34 Issue 1 (January 2017)


The Status and Distribution of the Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis) in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve and Nyika National Park, Northern Malawi
Pages 3 - 17 (Report)
William O. Mgoola and Hetherwick G.Msiska
The clawless otter (Aonyx capensis ) occurs in Nyika National Park and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife, Northern Malawi. A number of rivers, streams and other wetlands areas were searched for otter signs (spraints, tracks, dens, runs, food remains). The species status in Nyika could be rated as common and sparse in Vwaza. The clawless otter commonly occurs in Nyika; all the wetland areas surveyed indicated positive otter signs. A total of 790 signs were recorded in Nyika National Park, these signs were registered most frequently in riverine habitats in northern hills, followed by montane riverine habitats on plateaus and southern hills wetlands. There is no significant difference in density of otter in Nyika Wetlands (F=2.636 df= 2 and 6; P ?0 .001). This area has high potential for the survival of the clawless otter. There is abundant otter prey (fish, crabs), adequate vegetation cover, water, and reduced human activity. Aonyx capensis in the Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve were recorded only in the marsh (247 signs) and very rare in downstream areas. Luwewe and South Rukuru rivers remained negative with no evidence of otter occurrence. The habitat in the marsh is ideal for the survival and existence of otters, adequate vegetation cover, water and prey. The main threats observed in Nyika National Park include illegal bushfires, fish poaching especially in northern hills wetlands, and soil erosion. The major factors of stress in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve are streambank cultivation, riparian vegetation destruction, siltation, illegal bushfires and competition for fish and crabs between humans and otters. Broad-based conservation measures are proposed for long term survival and existence of clawless otter and its habitats.
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New Record of River Otter (Lontra longicaudis Olfers, 1818) in the Extreme South of Yungas of Northwestern Argentina
Pages 19 - 28 (Report)
Sebastián A Albanesi, J. Pablo Jayat, Paola Alberti and Alejandro D. Brown
The neotropical river otter ( Lontra longicaudis ) has scarce distribution records in Northwestern Argentina (NWA); most of them are old, inaccurate, and/or coming from mentions not well corroborated. We report filmic and photographic records of this species from the piedemont of Yungas of the southern NWA obtained in riparian forest patches located in citrus farms in Tucumán province. The record is important by the scarcity of information, but also because this otter have its southernmost distribution in the western portion in this area, it is a taxa with conservation concerns, and the records come from a natural environment heavily modified.
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Seasonal Changes in the Behaviour and Enclosure Use of Captive Asian Small Clawed Otters
Pages 29 - 50 (Article)
Mirela Cuculescu-Santana, Chris Horn, Rachel N. Briggs, Charlotte Bowe and Megan L. Geraughty
The influence of seasonal changes in temperature on the behaviour of tropical mammals kept in zoos and aquaria in temperate climate regions is very little studied. This article describes seasonal differences in the behavioural time budget and enclosure use of two male Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus) held in an indoor enclosure at the Blue Reef Aquarium Tynemouth in the North-East of England (55°N). The otters studied spent significantly more time in the water in summer (water temperature 18-19°C) than in winter (water temperature 11-12°C). Swimming represented 33.4% of the total summer observation time, compared to only 14.1% in winter. In summer, the otters were seen in water at 33.7% of the sampling times, in the deep or shallow pool or in the river in the enclosure, compared to 15% in winter. In both seasons, the time budget also included 32-34% active behaviours on land, 15-17% maintenance, 5-8% affiliative social interaction and 2-3% being out of sight. In winter, the otters were more aggressive (winter 2% > summer 1%) and less active, with significantly more time spent lying down resting or sleeping (winter 11% > summer 4.6%) or being vigilant, looking around or ‘begging’ at the keeper or visitors (winter 12.2% > summer 5.8%). Feeding anticipatory activity was seen in both seasons. Affiliative social interaction occurred mainly between feeds, linked to rest periods. The relevance of these observations is discussed in relation to thermoregulation and possible effects on reproduction.
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Photographic Record of Sympatry between Asian Small-Clawed Otter and Smooth-Coated Otter in the Northern Western Ghats, India
Pages 51 - 57 (Report)
Hannah Krupa, Atul Borker and Abhishek Gopal
Sympatry was recorded between a family of Asian Small-clawed otters and a family of Smooth-coated otters was observed in Goa, a region in the northern Western Ghats of India. A camera trap was used to monitor otter behaviour for a period of 74 days, during which Asian Small-clawed otters were recorded 17 times and Smooth-coated otters were recorded once.
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Records of Smooth-Coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata (Geoffroy, 1826) from the Krishna River Delta of South India
Pages 58 - 63 (Report)
Murthy Kantimahanti and Appa Rao Allaparthi
There have been no detailed studies on distribution and status of Smooth-coated Otter Lutrogale perspicillata from the Krishna river delta in coastal Andhra Pradesh of South India, although the area holds a population potentially important for the species’ conservation. Some interactions between local fishing communities and Smooth-coated Otters in the region have led to retaliatory killings. This negative situation beckons for conservation attention. Smooth-coated otters were observed in a few locations along the river banks and mangrove areas of Krishna Estuary. The potential threats for its survival highlight the need to prioritize this region as an important conservation area through further intensive surveys.
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