IUCN Otter Specialist Group . . . leading global otter conservation Last Update: Wednesday October 26, 2016
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IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
©IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group

Volume 33 Issue 1 (January 2016)

OSG Group Members News
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New Members of OSG

Since the last issue, we have welcomed 30 new members to the OSG: you can read more about them on the Members-Only pages.

Sharmin Akhtar, Bangladesh: Field biologist working on otter conservation in Bangladesh. I have also been trained in the IUCN Red List Assessment Process.

CR Aneesh, India: I am currently working as a conservation biologist in Silent Valley National Park in the state of Kerala, India. I have been involved in the research on otters since my under graduation project, primarily focusing on Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and Asian small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea). The reason I am working on otters is simply because I enjoy seeing these animals in the wild. My own research gave me several insights into their secretive life and I want to continue my work on otters.

Sajeda Begum, Bangladesh: I would like to enhance research in Academic Institutions on otter ecology, the importance of breeding sites, and captive propagation program with habitat improvement. Development of methods and materials for public awareness and education activities (photographs, movies, videos, etc.).

Jamie Bouhuys, Malaysia: Dwindling otter numbers in Southeast Asia are largely caused by hunting for fur, purported medicinal benefits, meat, threat to fisheries and lately even for pets. As a wildlife trade researcher I survey both online and physical markets for otters and their products to identify the magnitude of this threat and find solutions to counter it.

Camille Coudrat, Laos: Founder and director of Project Anoulak (www.conservationlaos.com) based in Lao PDR. Project Anoulak is dedicated to wildlife conservation in Lao PDR and more precisely in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area, at four main levels: scientific research; law enforcement/forest patrols; capacity building; and conservation education.

Alana Dewar, United Kingdom: Alongside continuing to develop the husbandry of the group of Asian Small-Clawed Otters at the Scottish Deer Centre, I encourage peers and visitors to adopt otter-friendly practices and support conservation initiatives locally and around the world, highlighting the work of other otter conservation groups.

Mayukh Dey, India: I have recently completed my graduation in Environmental Science from Fergusson College, in Pune, India. My research interests are in Freshwater biology, Hydrology and in the ecology of Otters, and Crocodilians. I am currently studying the behaviour of smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) in the Gangetic floodplains of Bihar, which is a highly dynamic and human dominated landscape.

Abhishek Gopal, India: A former computer science engineer, I now work in conservation.  I am a member of Wild Otters and Conservation Leadership Program (CLP) in Goa, surveying, camera trapping and using digital methods to document their activity and behaviour. 

Md Kamrul Hasan, Bangladesh: I have been working on conservation and management of various wild animals including primates, small cats, bats, otters and Gharials in Bangladesh. I am particularly interested to see the present status and distribution of three species of otters in Bangladesh. I would like to expand my molecular research on smooth-coated otters to see their population trends both in wild and traditionally conserved captive otters used in otter fishing. 

Sungwon Hong, South Korea: I have performed research on the distribution of the Eurasian otter in South Korea. Currently I am in the process of assessing fluctuations in population as a response to environmental change within the Nakdong River basin.

Maxine Jenkins, New Zealand: I am currently the Head of Exotics at Brooklands Zoo in New Zealand. I have been working with Asian Small-Clawed Otters for 7 years now, primarily with post reproductive and aged individuals.I have a strong interest in environmental and behavioural enrichment and how it effects the mental and physical health of otters in captivity. I run an enrichment group on facebook called Exotic and Domestic Animal Enrichment (https://www.facebook.com/groups/442062329252407/)

Rajesh Jha, Nepal: I am working on population status and distribution of otters in Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, and an otter awareness program for the community in the Buffer Zone of the reserve.

Rowan Jordaan, South Africa: I am interested in how, and ultimately why, behaviour and trophic ecology varies between and within populations occupying different habitats with varying climatic variables as well as other factors such as land use, human disturbance. I aim to use my results to aid management strategies and conservation efforts of areas where humans and otters are in close contact and often in conflict, including unprotected areas and trout farms, both of which are vital habitats needed to preserve genetic diversity and population numbers of these extremely charismatic animals.

Murthy Kantimahanti, India: Founder and lead conservation biologist for the Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society (EGWS). Murthy works closely with communities throughout the Eastern Ghats, especially outside the protected areas where human-wildlife conflict occurs, monitoring wildlife and providing education and intervention strategies

Vivien Kent, United Kingdom: I am Conservation Officer at Durham Wildlife Trust in the UK. Among other things I run our Annual Spring Otter Survey, train volunteers in survey methods, organise collection of otter spraint for analysis of dietary preferences and am the Events Organiser for the North East Otter Network.

Astrid Kiendl, Germany: I’ve been working at the OTTER-ZENTRUM for 4 years as a geographer, GIS and geodata expert. I lead the Information System Otter Surveys (ISOS) Project, in which I organize the data about the spread of the Eurasian otter in Germany and Europe. I also coordinate a network of more than 150 volunteer trackers across Germany. I´m very interested in the wildlife conservation of otters.

Sunita Khatiwara, India: My area of interest is on Himalayan ecosystem and its remarkable biodiversity. In particular, my research focuses on small carnivores, small mammals along the elevation gradient and human-wildlife conflict in the Eastern Himalayan region.

Hannah Krupa, India: I am a member of Wild Otters in Goa, working on Smooth-coated and Asian Small-Clawed Otters in the Western Ghats.  I work on educational modules and presentations for children, and recently co-authored a children's book: “Nuno and Mingel, The Adventures of a young Fisherman and an Otter”

Rahul Kumar, India: I am an undergraduate Zoology student in Mumbai. I have worked on several otter-related projects including a Rapid Action Project to protect 3 newly born pups of Lutrogale perspicillata in a highly human dominated disturbance zone on an island in the Gangetic flood plain, and a rehabilitation & radio-telemtry project on a rescued Amblonyx cinereus, both funded by Wildlife Trust of India.

Shawn Larson, USA: I have been working at the Seattle Aquarium since 1995 as Curator of Conservation research. I have been studying marine mammal physiology, genetics, population biology and ecology for over 20 years and have published over 10 scientific papers on various aspects of sea otter biology and conservation including acting as lead editor on a book published by Elsevier scientific titled “Sea Otter Conservation”. 

Benaya Leles, Brazil: I am a giant otter researcher and conservationist from Brazil.  I have researched the population dynamics and behavior of giant otters in Cantão Park, on the Araguaia river in Central Brazil, for three years. I am currently beginning a PhD thesis which will hopefully lead to the reintroduction of giant otters in the Paraná River basin.

Brian Long, USA: I have been involved with river otter work since I received a grant to survey neotropical river otters on the Rio Bavispe/ Rio Negro in Northern Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico, in 2001-2. After another survey river otters survey in New Mexico, I joined the otter reintroduction project to reintroduce otters to the upper Rio Grande watershed in New Mexico. I am also interested in otters in Mongolia, where I have worked.

Katarina Loso, Sweden:
I work on otter necropsies together with Anna Roos, collection care and data recording of otter material. I administrate a web page where the public can report otter sightings, and I also work on public engagement concerning otters

Jessica Luis, India: Research associate at Wild Otters, Goa, camera trapping and carrying out otter sign surveys. Also working on a project interacting with fishing communities, aiming to understand which fish species are important to both otters and fishermen, extent of overlap, otter diet analysis, how otters interact with fishing activities, and how to involve fishermen in otter monitoring activities.

Kannadasan Narasimmarajan, India: I am part of a team investigating otter presence, diet, distribution and threats on the River Moyar in Tamil Nadu, this being the first survey ever done there.  We are involving local people and other stakeholders, and conducting outreach campaigns to raise awareness of the otters and generate support for their conservation. 

Eswar Narayana, India: I work on the conservation of smooth-coated otters, fishing cats, tigers, Great Indian Bustards and Mouse Deer with local villagers, NGOs, Forest departments and other stakeholders in Andhra Pradesh. I have also surveyed for otters on the Rivers Krishna and Godavari, and am now documenting otter distribution, population status and threats in Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Kelsie Oldfield, UK: I am a Senior Keeper & Chair of the Training committee at Longleat, UK, and currently manage a pair of Asian Small-Clawed otters sharing an exhibit with binturong.

Laura Rink, USA: I have recently become the lead North American River otter trainer at the Calvert Marine Museum in Southern Maryland. As lead, it is my goal to truly utilize our otters as ambassadors to inspire the public, create awareness, and promote conservation. In my opinion, our otters are on display for public learning and we would be doing them a disservice if we do not do all that we can to convey their importance to the public.

Shamia Shoma, Bangladesh: I am a lecturer in Zoology at Jahangirnagar University. I work with the fishermen who have been using trained otters to lure fish into their nets for centuries.

Tammy Schmidt, USA: I have been a part of the zoological community for numerous years and have a keen interest and focus with otters, working with North American River Otters, Giant Otters and Asian small-clawed Otters. I am particularly interested in otter welfare, environmental enrichment and Giant Otters.

Clio Smeeton, Canada: Clio Smeeton is President of the Registered Charity, the Cochrane Ecological Institute (www.ceinst.org) which works in association with the Cochrane Research Institute (www.cochraneresearchinstitute.org ) undertaking the breeding and reintroduction of endangered species, the rehabilitation and release of orphaned wildlife, environmental research and education. Clio is a member of the OS and the international wild otter rehabilitation and care group and has decades of hands-on experience with wild and captive Lontra canadensis.

Leona Wai, Malaysia: I’m a master student working on the ecology of otters in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS), Sabah, Malaysia. I’m also involved in the project of assessing the Bornean otters.

Daisuke Waku, Japan: I have been working on the genetic relationships between the now-extinct Japanese otter and Lutra lutra populations in nearby countries. I discovered that the Japanese otter may have two lineages - one Eurasian Otter, and the other distinctly different but still in the Lutra clade. I am also keen on raising otter awareness, and educating students who are the otter persons of the future.

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