Ambassadors for wetland conservation
Smooth-coated Otter is distributed throughout the country from the Himalayas and to southwards in India
India is home to three of the thirteen species of otters found worldwide:
- Common Otter- Lutra lutra
- Smooth-coated Otter- Lutrogale perspicillata
- Small-clawed Otter- Aonyx cinereus
They have been accorded legal protection under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, while the IUCN Red List of threatened animals designates the status of Common Otter as Near Threatened and that of Smooth-coated Otter and the Small-clawed Otter as Vulnerable.
Habitat and Distribution
While the Smooth-coated Otter is distributed throughout the country from the Himalayas and to southwards, the Common Otter and the Small-clawed Otter are restricted to the Himalayas, to the north of the Ganges and to southern India. Their sympatric occurrence has been reported from northeast India and the Western Ghats only. With their shy and elusive habits, otters are extremely versatile, adapting to a variety of habitats, ranging from marine to freshwater environments.
Breeding populations of otters have been recorded from Corbett and Dudhwa Tiger Reserves and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in the north, Kaziranga National Park in the northeast, Sunderbans, Bhitarkanika and Coringa in the eastern coast; and Periyar Tiger Reserve and the Nagarhole National Park in the south. Remnant otter populations are reported from outside Protected Areas which are vulnerable to human perturbation.
Why are their numbers declining?
Why they are so important for us?
What is WWF-India doing to save the otters?
- Documenting past, present, and potential future distribution of otters. This is vital for understanding their population dynamics, and to plan species-oriented conservation programme.
- To reinforce a sympathetic attitude towards the plight faced by otters.
- Stimulating more research and conservation effort for these species.