Research: Status, Ecology and Conservation of Oriental Small Clawed Otter: Integration in Wildlife Conservation
Species/Topic: Oriental Small Clawed Otter
The research project aims to explore the status and ecology of oriental small clawed otter from the Karnali River of Bardia National Park, Nepal. Information on species like oriental small clawed otter and status of this particular otter species is unknown to park authority. Lack of adequate information on the otter is the main hindering factors for its conservation and regular monitoring for the park authorities. Besides this, habitats where there are signs of presence of the otter are degrading day by day. River pollution, habitat destruction (extraction of sand and gravels), excessive fishing by local fishermen and the killing of otters for pelts and meats by the locals are the major setbacks for the conservation of this species. Hence, the study aimed to explore status, distribution, food behaviours and conservation threats of otter in the river of Bardia National Park. More importantly, during the study period, conservation awareness campaigns will be organised in schools and in community and posters will be produced and distributed widely to make indigenous fishermen aware on the conservation importance of otter. During the period of the study, park authorities will be sensitized to include information of otter species in the management information system to ensure long term monitoring of the otter in the park. Questionnaire survey and intensive field survey will be conducted to know the presence of otter. The droppings and footprint survey will be carried out intensively in the areas where there are signs of presence of otter. Camera trap will be set in the otter latrine and tracks to capture the photos of oriental small clawed otter. The dropping will be studied to find the diet composition of otter. Awareness programmes will be conducted and training will be imparted to park personnel regarding monitoring of the species. The project will be implemented by National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) in collaboration with Bardia National Park whereas the community based conservation awareness will be carried out by involving school eco teacher, eco club, buffer zone user committees and indigenous group who are involved in fishing. Conservation officer of National Trust for Nature Conservation, Mr. Rabin Kadariya will work as a principal investigator. He holds M.Sc. in watershed management and has good field experience of managing various projects in Bardia funded by DI/ZSL, UNDP/GEF/SG, USAID, USFWS and WWF. The park officer and other officer of NTNC will also involve for otter survey and conservation awareness. The four wildlife technician of park will be trained and mobilized for the otter survey in the Karnali river of Bardia National Park.