No countrywide population estimate is available.
1.3 meter (Total Body Length)
Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List
Conservation IssuesTheir numbers are said to be declining with few breeding populations reported 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.
Major threats to Asian otter population are loss of wetland habitats due to construction of largescale hydroelectric projects, conversion of wetlands for settlements and agriculture, reduction in prey biomass, poaching and contamination of waterways by pesticides. Poaching for pelt and other body parts that are believed to possess therapeutic properties. Few nomadic hunting tribes eat otter flesh. Reductions in prey biomass (fish stocks) and infrastructural developments have led to disappearance of otters from the many streams and rivers which were once major otter habitats.
WWF-India’s InitiativesWWF has established distribution and current population status in unprotected stretches of river Ganges and its major tributaries. Their occurrence was reported in Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time. There is a plan to develop an atlas on all the species of otters in India. This atlas will facilitate the conservation of otters at landscape levels.
Habitat and Distribution
Smooth-coated otters are found in areas where freshwater is plentiful, preferring shallow and placid waters— wetlands and seasonal swamps, rivers, lakes, and rice paddies. Where they are the only species of otter, they may be found in almost any suitable habitat, but where they are sympatric with other species, they avoid smaller streams and canals in favour of larger bodies of water. Although they are often found in saltwater near the coast, especially on smaller islands, they require a nearby source of freshwater.