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IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin
©IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group

Volume 34 Issue 1 (January 2016)

OSG Group Members News
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New Members of OSG

Since the last issue, we have welcomed 25 new members to the OSG: you can read more about them on the Members-Only pages.

Kelsey Baird, USA: I am interested in the human dimensions of conservation, such as the attitude of sport anglers towards otters and other piscivorous predators, and what informs and influences their views.

Adi Barocas, Peru: I have just completed my doctorate studying coastal river otters (Lontra canadensis) in Alaska. I am now moving to Peru to work on the effects of mining and cattle ranching on giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis). http://adibarocas.wixsite.com/adibarocas

Dhruba Bijaya, Nepal: I am an assistant professor at Tribhuvan University, Pokhara. Since 2006, I have conducted surveys and conservation research on otters in the lakes of Nepal, working with Dr Jyoti Bhandari; this included drafting and preparing booklets, pamplets and reports. In future I hope to involve my undergraduate and postgraduate students in this work.

Mike Chong, Hong Kong: I am a freelance naturalist and guide carrying out biodivesity surveys in Malaysia. I am interested in surveying for Smooth Coated and Asian Small-Clawed Otters in unprotected wetland areas, especially in the currently threatened and some severely threatened peat and freshwater swamp forest areas.

André Coelho, Brazil: I work on population dynamics of giant otters, and the analysis of geographical patterns of otter sites, aswell as modellling distribution in some regions of the Brazilian Amazon. I intend to elaborate the models incorporating environment overlap between otters and humans, human attitudes to otters and possible alternative income sources from scientific tourism.

Simone Giovacchini, Italy: For my graduate thesis, I surveyed the boundaries of the Italian otter population in south-central Italy and found that two formerly isolated populations are now connected. I am currently working with Anna Loy on testing capture techniques and GPS devices on captive and wild otters in central Italy for future ecological studies in southern Italy.

Max Khoo De Yuan, Singapore: My main research interest lies in mammal ecology, conservation biology and wildlife management. My research so far has been focused on smooth-coated otters. I have been involved in various documentaries from National Geographic, BBC and Channel News Asia that featured Singapore’s otters. I am part of the OtterWatch team in Singapore that is actively promoting the conservation of otters.

Adrian Loo, Singapore: I am the Director (Terrestrial) at the National Biodiversity Centre in the National Parks Board of Singapore, where I establish conservation policies and coordinate conservation efforts for native terrestrial biodiversity. I am the Chair of the Otter Working Group which oversees the conservation of native otters in Singapore. It consists of representatives of different stakeholders, from government agencies, the scientific community and members of the public. We keep track of emerging issues in relation to otters and respond in a multi-disciplinary, multi-partner approach.

Izabel Laurentino, Brazil: I have been researching the ecology and behaviour of Lontra longicaudis since 2011, and published the first confirmation of the species being found on the east coast of Rio Grande do Norte do Brasil. I now have a voluntary initiaitve called "Projeto Lontra Viva", which carries on this work, and also does environmental education to encourage conservation of the neotropical otter.

Roman Lyach, Czech Republic: My research covers areas of otter feeding ecology, cormorant feeding ecology, kingfisher feeding ecology and nesting availability, mink feeding ecology, sports and commercial fisheries, fish yields in flowing waters, stable isotope analysis of fish, fish hiding from predators, fish movement in streams and rivers, conflicts between environmental protection, fisheries management, and society.

Thabang Madisha, South Africa: I am enthusiastic about otters, and have been working for a number of years on genetic aspects of otters, especially for elucidating population structure, such as species differentiation from spraint with South African otters, and population structure, genetic diversity and demographic history of otters in Hungary.

Sharne McMilan, China: I am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Hong Kong studying the 'Ecology and conservation of Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) in Hong Kong'. This study aims to establish the baseline status of the otter population in Hong Kong including number of individuals, sex ratio, genetic diversity, distribution and home/activity ranges by spraint survey, faecal DNA analysis, and camera trapping. The study findings would also inform our understanding of potential threats and habitat requirements, as well as the approach for future monitoring.

Angelina Mela, Italy: Since 2006, I have been surveying for otters in the south of Italy. I currently work as an environmental educator, and am working on the otter census in Parco Nazionale dell’Appenino Lucano

Thais Pereira, Brazil: I am a biologist and I have worked for over 8 years with Lontra longicaudis and Pteronura brasiliensis in Brazil. Currently I work at the Araguaia Institute monitoring the population of otters.

Matthias Rinke, Germany: I am a veterinary pathologist, lately retired as head of Toxicological Pathology at a major German pharmaceutical company. I am now seeking to systematically investigate the histopathology of otters in order to establish what is normal, and pathological changes, comparing samples from animals of different ages side by side.

Chuck Roe, USA: I am a first year Ph.D. student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine looking to research calcium oxalate urolithiasis in Asian small-clawed otters. My background is in nutrition and I hope to look at dietary differences, the microbiome, as well as the metabolome.

 Mohan Bikram Shrestha, Nepal: I am a Conservation Officer with Wildlife Conservation Nepal and a charter member of the Nepal Otter Network.  My work focuses on the illegal trade in wildlife, notably otters, in Nepal.

Purna Man Shrestha, Nepal: I am a field biologist who has worked on surveys and conservation of various species in Asia, including snow leopards and red pandas. I attended the Asian Wetland and Otter Conservation Training Workshop in China in 2016, and joined the Himalayan Otter Network as I wish to contribute to knowledge and survival of the otter species of Nepal.

Jeffery Teo, Singapore: I am co-administering OtterWatch Facebook, am a member of Otter Working Group (OWG, Singapore) and informally chairing an active social otter watching group comprising of Photographers, videographers, individuals from media, film-making, research and public agencies, and many passionate retirees. I am also mentor to various students from National University of Singapore who study otters. We count every otter because every otter counts.

Sanjan Thapa, Nepal: I have been engaged in field work on fishing cats in wetlands in the foothills of the Himalayas, and plan to extend this work to otters in this area. I am also involved in outreach to local communities and school children, and have published an educational poster of the Otters found in Nepal. I am a member of the Nepal Otter Network and the Himalayan Otter Network.

Krunal Trivedi, India: I am an otter surveyor working on Smooth-Coated otters in South Gujarat. I am also involved in conflict resolution with prawn farmers who suffer stock losses due to otter predation.

Fernando Trujilo , Colombia: I have worked in otter conservation since 1998. I am director of Omacha Foundation, which has produced action plans in Colombia, Equador and Venezuala, including Red List assessments for Colombia. We have also rescued, rehabilitated and released 6 giant otters and 3 neotropical otters.
http://www.omacha.org/

Rinaldo Verdi, Chile: I am director of NGO Chinchimén, which is focussed on the protection of coastal habitats and fauna, with the Marine Otter, Lontra felina, as the flagship. I have been involved in raising , rehabilitating and releasing otters brought to us, and currently care for a young otter orphaned as pup and due for release shortly. Chinchimen Facebook Page

Christina Ward, Guyana: I started working with otters at Zoo Atlanta around 3 years ago; both small clawed and giants. The giants completely stole my heart and changed the course of my life. I have collaborated with Dr. Lucy Spelman for the past couple of years on otter research. We traveled to Guyana last January and completed an otter census and are headed back down to Guyana in January to pick up the otter survey once again. Creature Conserve, the non-profit, which Dr. Lucy started and I help manage, aims to travel to Guyana every January in order to keep the otter research going.

Sarah Walkley, USA: Since 2016, I have been studying river otter vocalizations in wild and human care populations through my organization Wild Otter Acoustics. My doctoral dissertation will be on the vocalizations of North American river otters in the wild. I will be collaborating with Megan Isadore of Wild Otter Ecology Project to analyze differences in call quality and quantity among different locations and populations.

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