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Otter Update

Posted by on March 13, 2012

I recently provided some information to Scenic South updating residents on what has been happening with regards to my otter research. See the link here: http://www.scenicsouth.co.za/2012/03/cape-clawless-otter-researcher-calls-for-otter-spotters-in-south-peninsula/

As explained in the update, last year, Scenic South presented the beginnings of the Otter Project in the Cape Peninsula: a project initiated by the University of Cape Town’s Zoology Department in response to the need to understand how these charismatic aquatic mammals are coping with declining water quality in an urban environment. The Peninsula Otter Watch was developed as a tool to collect information on where otters are living in the Cape, and the following brief summary highlights what information is available so far from Peninsula residents.

Approximately 30 recorded sightings over the last 5 months highlights the fact that these animals are mostly secretive and active mostly at night. Particular individuals tend to be seen regularly along specific stretches of coastal habitat, or near their holts in certain wetland areas. However, spoor and scat is a more common sighting than the otters themselves. The good news is that recently otters in two of the Peninsula wetlands have had pups; otters seem to have returned to Hout Bay for the summer; and otters have been spotted in the Liesbeek River. The sad news unfortunately is that otters are at risk to being killed on roads. In the last 6 months, otters have been killed on both Liesbeek Parkway and Kommetjie Road, highlighting the danger otters face when on the move and therefore the need to understand the spatial ecology of these animals. Pollution events including the recent sewage spill in Clovelly wetlands also pose a risk to otters. Pollution and subsequent contamination of the food web has been known to cause population declines in Europe and the United States in the past, but is not well understood in South Africa. Over the next few years, the otter project aims to understand both the spatial ecology and pollution burdens of otters in polluted (urban) and relatively non-polluted (natural) river systems in the Cape Peninsula.

As field work begins, information and news on otter sightings are needed more than ever! Please contact me with details of sightings (signs of otters, spoor, scat – all useful)!

One Response to Otter Update

  1. debra west

    would it not be possible for signs to be put up alerting traffic – motorized and pedestrian – to be on the lookout for otters? there are signs of toads in noordhoek region. it could bring members of the public into the spotting programme too. the signs are standard public signage in accordance with road traffic regulations.

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