Shedding light on three otter species of the Indian subcontinent
Significant data gaps exist with regards to the range and distribution of the three otter species in the region; the smooth-coated otter, Asian small-clawed otter and the Eurasian otter. We are hoping to bridge those gaps by encouraging you, your family, friends, and the entire public to participate in this project. You do not need be a trained biologist for this. We will help you develop skills needed to become a better nature observer, using which you can help us gather critical information.
Why is Project Lighthouse important?
As apex predators, otters play a major role in maintaining the balance in the ecosystems they inhabit. However, populations of all three species are currently in decline due to:
- Threat of human development, including habitat alterations, for example dam construction, sand mining and more, which can result in loss of wetland habitats;
- Human activities such as aquaculture or over fishing, which can result in a decline of prey biomass;
- Pollution of both water sources and habitats;
- Poaching for illegal trade, either in pelts, body parts or in live otters - as pets.
In order to mitigate these threats and sustain these populations we first need to have a better idea of each of the species in question. First we need to address the significant data gaps in the specific range and distribution of all three species. Any observational records from members of the public, either from the past or into the future can help us fill these gaps. The overall aim of Project Lighthouse is to:
- Establish and/or confirm otter presence (new/old range)
- Confirm historical records and current trends
- Provide data and evidence for conservation plans and species/habitat management.
How can you help?
If you / your friend or anyone you know sees an otter, or a group of otters (or hear anything about them that you think we should know), share the following 3 pieces of information to the Telegram / WhatsApp / Signal (# +91-70583-99856) :
- The location pin (for eg. Google Maps).
- Description of what you saw (how many otters, what they were doing, anything you heard about them from locals)
- Any image / video to support your sighting/story.
Please note, if the information is from the past, please add the year/month/date of the sighting as far as possible.
Caution : Do not publicise the exact locations of your otter sightings on social media as this can be misused.
Steps to begin your otterspotter adventure:
Do I have otters around where I live? Get an idea of the current range of the three otter speciesClick on their images above for the approximate ranges of the three species. Note that the smooth-coated otter is the most widespread of them on the subcontinent, so that may be the one you begin your otterspotter journey with. Also, remember that otters live very close to water bodies (rivers, streams).
So what do these otters look like exactly? Get a sense of their physical features and size
How do I find them? Spotting otters and their signsOtters consume fish and crustaceans, live close to water bodies, and defecate (poop) on land. There are particular signs to look out for that indicate otter presence, these include scat (poop) (typically containing fish scales), paw prints and grooming sites. There may also be particular times more suited to having a chance for sighting them. Here's our help section for further details on these.
Get out! Field etiquette is importantAs you step into nature, there are certain things to be mindful of. This is not just for your safety, but to be respectful of your and the animal's habitat. This section will provide you with basic guidelines and a checklist to take when you are outdoors.
Ask We are here to helpYou may see or learn something, but are unsure. If you need any scientific guidance, message us on Signal / Telegram / WhatsApp no. +91-70583-99856 or email us : [email protected] We will get back to you as soon as possible.
Community Team up!Join a community of likeminded individuals at Project Lighthouse. (We've created a Facebook group to begin with). Lets start a conversation and learn and guide each other along. We encourage you to form mini otterspotter communities in your locations too… but be aware of field etiquette! We will also hold monthly live Q&A sessions to answer questions and give updates about this project.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Illegal Trade
- Conflict issues
This is all important information and you can access the 'How can you help' section above to send it to us.