|Date||7 Sep 2017|
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) play a vital role in balancing the freshwater ecosystems as a top carnivore species and may therefore significantly influence the overall spatiotemporal dynamics of the river system in the eco-region over a long period of time. Otters are the least studied small mammals in the developing countries like Nepal. They are rare, semi-aquatic animals for which we have little information in Nepal, due to lack of research and conservation programs. In fresh water ecosystems, otters play an important role in structuring food webs, but species such as crocodile, dolphin and turtle are given more priority compared to otters. Three species of otters namely Eurasian, Smooth-coated and Asian small-clawed are found in Nepal. This Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is included in Vulnerable (VU) category by IUCN Red List and in the Appendix II of CITES.
This project aims to investigate the habitat and distribution of smooth-coated otters, prepare a habitat map, and create public awareness for the species conservation in the Babai River, Bardia National Park, Nepal. The study will identify otter conservation status and distribution through otter sign survey, key informants survey, focus group discussions and questionnaire survey. Arc GIS 10 and remote sensing will be used for the analysis of the data and to prepare potential habitat map of otters in Babai River, Bardia. From this project it is expected to document status and distribution of Smooth coated otters in the project site. Further more this project expected to devise appropriate intervention strategies for long term conservation of otters and to create awareness among local communities. The Babai River is also habitat to many other small mammals such as fishing cat, crocodile, migratory birds, fishes, and many invertebrates. Efforts made for otter conservation can also generally result in better conservation of wetland ecosystems.
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