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Urban hazards

Posted by on June 18, 2012

Last week, an injured Cape Clawless Otter was found in Lakeside, not far from the Westlake Pond where our camera traps have been monitoring what appears to be a healthy family with 2 or 3 eight month old pups.

The otter had been seen limping over the main road, up towards the mountain and into a residents garden who then called me to find out what to do. The SPCA Wildife Unit was contacted and they took the otter to their new short term care facility to have its injuries assessed. It appeared to be a male sub-adult (approx 8 months – 1 year) and vets determined that it had a badly broken leg. As the bone was completely broken in two, and too severe to mend, the decision was made to euthanase.

Although no one knows how the otter broke its leg, it is possible that it was hit by a car. Since December 2010, six otters have died from car accidents or related injuries, and this number appears to be increasing. Their crepuscular lifestyle and dispersing behaviour put them at risk in an urban environment. Over the last 20 years, records from Iziko Museum show that of the 42 otters in their collection, 15 of these were found dead from car accidents or related injuries (35%). Of the 15 otters known to have been killed on our roads in the last 20 years, most were adults (6 females, only one of which was a sub-adult; 9 males, one was a juvenile, 3 sub-adults and the rest were adults). SOURCE: Iziko Museum, South Africa Museums.

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