Field etiquette and preparation
I. Ethics and guidelines :
- Observe from afar. In order to experience their natural behaviours and to not stress the animals, avoid getting too close to an otter or otter family. If an otter feels threatened by your presence, they will be quick to disappear, and your sighting will be over.
- Do not attempt any contact! an otter has a fierce bite, and like all wild animals, will attack to defend themselves and their family.
- Do not disturb any dens or defecating areas as these are important for otters. Tread lightly wherever you’re walking, duck down if you see any movement.
- The best chance to see an otter is if you stay quiet. Often, you will hear them before you see them. Check out otter vocalisation audios and learn what to listen out for.
- Respect the habitat you are in and leave the area you are exploring as you found it. Under no circumstances should you collect or handle dead or alive wildlife, especially otters. This is a punishable offense, for all 3 species of otter, and most other wildlife in India, under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Stay sensible and watch out for changing weather conditions and hazards. Your safety is of the utmost importance so please do not take any unnecessary risks, especially near water.
- Be careful to not venture onto private property without permission from the owner. If you are unsure, do not risk it.
- India is full of wonderful and unique wildlife, admired all around the world. Some of this wildlife however is targeted for the illegal wildlife trade. Do not publicise the exact locations of your otter sightings on social media in case this information gets into the wrong hands.
II. Equipment :
- Weather appropriate clothing: hats, closed toe shoes/boots, waterproofs, jumpers
- Water bottle
- Phone with Google Maps, Signal/WhatsApp - communication in case you need it and send us a record of your observations!
- Something to record notes for our data set - your phone or simply pen and paper
- Camera (not essential but recommended, phone camera if nothing else!)
- First Aid Kit, Medications, Sunscreen and Insect repellent