Distribution and threats to Smooth-Coated Otters Lutrogale perspicillata (Mammalia: Carnivora: Mustelidae) in Shuklaphanta National Park, Nepal

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Gopi Krishna Joshi
Rajeev Joshi
Bishow Poudel


This article aims to assess the distribution, threats and perceptions regarding otters in Shuklaphanta National Park (SNP). It also provides an overview of the conservation efforts of the Nepal government within and outside the protected areas. The study was carried out through preliminary survey of the wetlands using direct sighting techniques, plus indirect evidence including fur, spraints, dead remains, pugmarks, transect survey, key informant survey (n= 15), and questionnaire survey of households (n= 70) in buffer zone. This study found that otter signs were mostly concentrated in the moist soil near the wetlands area. Otter distribution was mostly recorded in Radhapur river, Kalikhich lake, Chaudhar river, Hattinala near hattisar area of pipraiya, Bahuni river, Shikari lake, and Salgaudi lake of Shuklaphanta National Park. Fire and extraction of construction materials from wetlands were identified as severe threats through social survey and key informant survey. For the maintenance of viable population of otters these threats should be minimized through effective biodiversity conservation techniques such as awareness programs and enforcement of laws inside the park. In recent decades, the populations have declined as a consequence of hunting and the overall loss of natural habitats. Overall, our study shows that information on the status, distribution and population trends of Smooth-coated Otters is limited. Therefore, we recommend that more studies should be carried out in this region to establish status, distribution and ecology to improve our understanding of otters in the face of increasing impacts on their habitats. In addition, it is mandatory for the implementation of conservation activities such as awareness to the locals and policy makers, appropriate habitat management and initiating scientific research to ensure a minimum viable population of the species in the country.

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