such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
June 23, 2008 — Dara, the world's only
captive hairy-nosed otter, is one of the rarest of otter species. He was recently released into his new home in
a wildlife center in Cambodia.
The world's only known hairy-nosed otter in captivity, one of the
rarest and little known of otter species, got a new home and a Buddhist
blessing June 18.
Dara, a frisky young male rescued when his mother was killed by a
fisherman, was released into a large new enclosure built for him at
Phnom Tamau Zoological Garden and Rescue Centre, located near Phnom
Penh. The release was celebrated with a blessing by Buddhist monks, a
Cambodian tradition when a family moves into a new residence. Dara,
which in the Khmer language means "star" or "precious" was brought to
the wildlife center in December. He had been living in a small cage
since his capture.
The natural habitat for this rare species in Cambodia is the
seasonally flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Great Lake.
Conservation International (CI) and Cambodia's Fishery Administration
are working together to extend the Kampong Prak fish sanctuary at Tonle
Sap Lake up to 20,000 hectares to include vital otter habitat. The
expansion includes large areas of flooded forests where at least two
species of rare otters are known to exist, the hairy-nosed otter (Lutra
sumatrana), and the smooth-coated otter (Lutragale perspicillata).
Due to factors such as civil war and poor infrastructure, Cambodia
has retained vast areas of forest and wetlands, and almost 25 percent
of the entire country is managed primarily for conservation. In
neighboring countries, these natural habitats and their wildlife have
been lost due to logging or agriculture. Cambodia is now a stronghold
for many rare species that have been driven to extinction elsewhere in
Thought to be extinct in the 1990s, the hairy-nosed otter is known
to survive only in a few regions of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and
Sumatra. Otters in Asia are increasingly threatened by the illegal
international fur trade. They are also captured for pets or killed for
use in traditional medicines. Another growing threat is loss of
habitat, due in part to impacts from global climate change.
"Climate change may well lead to changes in flow regimes from the
Mekong, along with the many hydro dams on the Mekong that that would
mean the otter's habitat the flooded forests would be mostly lost. This
means the species would either be lost or we need a protected area to
support it. We are doing just that with this freshwater sanctuary,"
said David Emmett, CI's regional director in Cambodia.
"Scientists recommend establishment of a breeding population in
captivity to ensure survival of this species," explained Annette
Olsson, CI's research and monitoring manager in Cambodia. "Dara could
be the founder of such a captive population, if and when we find him a
wife, of course."
CI has several activities at Tonle Sap to protect the otters there,
including research and monitoring, training of local law enforcement
rangers, education and awareness for local communities and schools, and
discussion groups with local fishing communities to address human-otter
In the Tonle Sap region, otters are often killed by poor fishermen
who consider them pests because otters sometimes break their fishing
nets and traps and steal their catch. At the same time, fisherman can
sell the furs to dealers, who frequently will provide wildlife traps to
CI scientists have been researching otters in Cambodia since 2006,
and Olsson is leading the 2008 review of the hairy-nosed otter for the
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Currently, the listing status is
Data Deficient, but Olsson said that will very likely be changed to a
higher category of threat following the 2008 review.
The IUCN Otter Specialist Group considers this otter species to be
the world's rarest, and all evidence currently indicates that it will
be in a highly threatened category. The new listing status will make
this species a higher priority for protection and conservation funding.
A partner of CI, the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) has
with the help of CI raised the funds needed for the new enclosure and
to ensure food and care for the otters at the rescue center. IOSF
launched the "Furget Me Not" campaign last year to raise funds for the
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