Conservation of the African Clawless Otter, Malawi

14 Aug 2000 Nyika National Park , Malawi, Africa

William Oscar Mgoola

An increasing human population poses a threat to protected Malawian wetland areas through deforestation, illegal bushfires, drainage and overgrazing. Two endangered otter species are greatly threatened by these activities and this project seeks to protect these otters.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve and Nyika National Park in Malawi have been designated as protected areas for over 20 years. These wetland regions support a wide range of biodiversity. However an increasing human population poses a threat to these areas through deforestation, illegal bushfires, drainage and overgrazing. The African Clawless Otter and the Spotted Neck Otter, both endangered in Malawi, are both greatly threatened by these activities.

This project seeks firstly to consolidate available data on the status of the otters, and to identify population trends. Identification of the major otter localities in the freshwater habitats will allow specific conservation measures to be put in place. Management strategies will then be formulated and implemented to ensure the long term survival of the otters and their habitats. Dissemination of information amongst the local communities will be a key part of the project work to ensure community participation in the conservation effort.

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