Environment Day: Scientists discover first ever photographic evidence of Eurasian Otter

The fascinating discovery was made by camera trapping over a vast area of 5,800 sq km in extremely rugged terrain of the Satpura Hill Range and the Kanha-Pench Corridor in Madhya Pradesh


According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Eurasian Otter is listed as ‘near threatened’. Photo: WCT/MPFD
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Eurasian Otter is listed as ‘near threatened’. Photo: WCT/MPFD

New Delhi: In what could definitely cheer wildlife lovers today, on World’s Environment Day, scientists have discovered first ever photographic evidence of Eurasian Otter, one of the rarest Indian mammals, from the Satpura Tiger Reserve of Madhya Pradesh.

5th June is celebrated as the World Environment Day and this year’s theme is, ‘Go Wild for Life’ encouraging people to celebrate all those species under threat and take action to safeguard them for future generations.

The fascinating discovery was made by camera trapping over a vast area of 5,800 sq. Km (square kilometre ) in extremely rugged terrain of the Satpura Hill Range and the Kanha-Pench Corridor in Madhya Pradesh done by forest department in collaboration with NGO Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT).

Based on indirect evidences and ancient records the Eurasian Otter is believed to be found in the Himalayas and in some parts of the Western Ghats, however, there has been no confirmed direct evidence to confirm their presence in India since several decades.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organization working for animal welfare, Eurasian Otter is listed as ‘near threatened’. It has a wide distribution covering Europe, Africa and Asia. Throughout its historic range, this species has either gone extinct from several regions or reduced to small isolated populations.

But the evidence found in India extends their geographical range to central India and also provides their first ever photographic evidence.

“During this year’s camera trapping exercise, two species of otters—Smooth-coated otter and Eurasian otter—were photo-captured at various locations within the Satpura Tiger Reserve and in the Kanha-Pench Corridor,” said Milind Pariwakam, wildlife biologist at WCT.

“The discovery of the Eurasian Otter in the Satpura Tiger Reserve proves the value of large inviolate protected areas in conserving bio-diversity. The presence of the rare species in the Kanha Pench corridor also proves the value of connected landscapes for highly endangered species such as gaur, wild dogs, leopards and now the Eurasian Otter,” Pariwakam added.

Established in 1999, Satpura Tiger Reserve is located in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 2133.30 km2. . It comprises of Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Satpura National Park and Bori Wildlife Sanctuary and supports a large number of ethno-medicinal flora and faunal diversity.

Satpura is also one of the most rugged landscapes in central India, with steep mountains and deep gorges, this is among the less explored tiger reserves of India harbouring several rare bird species as well.

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