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

Main Article Content

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.

Article Details

How to Cite
Joshi, G.K., Joshi, R. and Poudel, B. 2021. Distribution and threats to Smooth-Coated Otters Lutrogale perspicillata (Mammalia: Carnivora: Mustelidae) in Shuklaphanta National Park, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 13, 11 (Sep. 2021), 19475–19483. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.7322.13.11.19475-19483.


Acharya, P. (2006). Otter and wetland conservation in Nepal. Water Resources, Security and Sustainability, SEEP Water, Kathmandu, Nepal, 144–149pp.

Acharya, P.M. (1998). Survey of status and distribution of otter in Rapti River of Royal Chitwan National Park. A report submitted to Otter Research Group, Japan, 10pp.

Acharya, P.M. & J.B. Gurung (1991). A report on the status of Common Otter (Lutra lutra) in Rupa and Begnas Tal, Pokhara valley. An unpublished research report submitted to Resources Himalaya, 4 pp.

Acharya, P.M. & J.B. Gurung (1994). A Report on the status of Common Otter (Lutra lutra) in Rupa and Begnas Tal, Pokhara Valley. Tigerpaper 21(2): 21–22.

Acharya, P.M. & S. Rajbhandari (2011). Distribution and conservation status of otters in Nepal. Zoo Journal 2: 27–37.

Acharya, P.M. & S.L. Rajbhandari (2014). Habitats of Lutrogale perspicillata in the Narayani River, Chitwan National Park, Nepal: assessment of water quality. Journal of Indian Research 2: 67–76.

Acharya, P.M., P. Lamsal, S.L. Rajbhandari, D. Neupane, P. Shrestha, M. Niraula, M. Pathak, H.K. Lama & B. Lama (2010). Status and distribution of Otters in Narayani River, Chitwan National Park. A first phase research report submitted to Rufford Foundation, UK, 52pp.

Basnet, A., B.S. Bist, P. Ghimire & P.M. Acharya (2020). Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra): Exploring Evidence in Nepal. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 37(1): 29–37.

Basnet, A., P. Ghimire, Y.P. Timilsina & B.S. Bist (2020). Otter Research in Asia: Trends, biases and future directions. Global Ecology and Conservation 24: e01391. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e01391

Biodiversity Profile Project (1995). Enumeration of the Mammals of Nepal. Biodiversity Profiles Project, Technical Publication No. 6. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. Kathmandu, 86pp.

DNPWC (2003). Royal Shuklaphanta National Park Management Plan 2003. Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation,Nepal, 18pp.

DNPWC (2005). Twenty-five years of DNPWC. Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu.

Foster-Turley, P., S. Macdonald & C. Mason (1990). Otters: An Action Plan for their Conservation. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 126 pp.

Hodgson, B.H. (1839). Summary description of four new species of otter. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 8: 319–320.

Houghton, S.J. (1987). The smooth coated otter in Nepal. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Buletinl 2: 5–8.

Hussain, S.A. & B.C. Choudhury (1997). Distribution and status of the Smooth-coated Otter (Lutra perspicillata) in National Chambal Sanctuary, India. Biological Conservation 80(2): 199–206. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(96)00033-X

Jamwal, P.S., J. Takpa, P. Chandan & M. Savage (2016). First systematic survey for otter (Lutra lutra) in Ladakh. Indian Trans Himalayas. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 33(1): 79–85.

Joshi, D. (2009). Status of Smooth Indian Otter (Lutra perspicillata) and conservation of freshwater ecosystem outside protected areas of Bardia National Park in Karnali River, Nepal. A report submitted to Rufford Small Grants Foundation, U.K. A report submitted to Rufford Small Grants Foundation, U.K. http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/projects/dipesh_joshi. Downloaded on 5 August, 2021.

Kafle, G. (2011). Otter Research and Conservation Project in Wetlands of High Hills, Nepal. A final research report submitted to Rufford Small Grants Foundation, U.K., 1–9 pp.

Kafle, G., M.K. Balla & B.K. Paudyal (2008). A review of threats to Ramsar sites and associated biodiversity of Nepal. Tiger Paper (FAO) 35(1): 9–11.

Reuther, C. (1999). From the Chairman’s desk. Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 16: 3–6.

Reuther, C. & A. Roy (2001). Some results of the 1991 and 1999 Otter (Lutra lutra) surveys in the River Ise catchment, Lower-Saxony, Germany. IUCN Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 18: 28–40.

Shrestha T.K. (2003). Wildlife of Nepal. Mrs. Bimala Shrestha, Kathmandu, Nepal, 720 pp.

Thapa, P. (2019). Distribution and threats to Otter in Shuklaphanta National Park, Nepal. MSc Thesis. Institute of Forestry, Tribhuwan University, Pokhara, Nepal.

Thapa, T.B. (2002). Survey of Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) in Karnali river of Royal Bardia National Park Nepal. A research report submitted to IOSF, UK, 9 pp.

Yonzon, P.B. (1998). Baseline information on wildlife of the west Seti River Valley with emphasis on bird and mammals. A report to the West Seti Hydro-Electric project. SMEC Ltd., 17pp.

Most read articles by the same author(s)