Another surprise as Frontier-Cambodia reports the emergency rescue of a bundle of fur with four webbed feet and a very hairy nose. Saved from certain death, the Hairy Nosed otter was lucky to be found. The discovery of yet another endangered species continues to demonstrate the importance of protecting Botum Sakor and the countless species hidden inside.
Spanning over 180, 000ha Botum Sakor National Park is crammed with some of the worlds most threatened and endangered species. The medley of habitats within the park is just one reason why such a diverse number of species thrive there. The tall umbrella canopies are filled with the songs from a thousand birds and provide a play-ground for the mischievous Pileated gibbons. Running through open pockets of grassland are Asiatic wild dogs, whilst the dense forest floor hides the majestic tiger and the labyrinth of wetlands supports fishing cat and Siamese crocodile.
Lucky enough to have two camps bang smack in the middle of this magical haven are our Frontier- Cambodia (CBF) team of researchers and volunteers. Their dedication and hard work has lead to the confirmation of over 20 species, previously unknown to inhabit Botum Sakor.
It’s easy to see why CBF are always wondering what they might see next, but just as we start to think there can’t possibly be anymore species to emerge from Botum Sakor our team go and surprise us yet again.
During a boat trip the team came across a brown bundle tangled up in a fishing net. Closer inspection revealed the struggling fur ball to be an otter. The creature was extremely distressed and the team knew they had to act quickly to save it. After managing to free the otter it was taken to a Wildaid station for treatment, where it was confirmed to be a Hairy Nosed otter.
Living in family groups and getting its name from the hairs on the end of the moist part of its nose, this charismatic carnivore usually weighs no more then 13lbs and measures about 50cm from nose to tail tip. Its short water-proof coat, webbed feet and strong flattened tail makes the otter fully equipped for swimming and incredibly agile in the water.
Previously thought extinct, the hairy nosed otter is the rarest of the five species present in Asia and recorded as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUNC). Sadly, otters frequently fall victim to fishing nets, often becoming tangled up whilst hunting for fish. The likelihood of escaping on their own is slim and in most cases the otter will drown, starve to death or be killed by fishermen. This is just one of the many causes for decline of the species; in Cambodia illegal poaching is common practice with a single pelt fetching the equivalent of over $200. In addition, hunting, water pollution and prey depletion, resulting from over-fishing, have all contributed to the species to decline of 50% over the past 30 years.
Luckily for this otter, CBF were on hand. It’s not yet known if the otter will be released back into the wild due to concerns regarding its sight and ability to survive, in the meantime it will continued to be cared for at the centre.
After identifying hairy nosed otters inhabit Botum Sakor, CBF are extremely eager to surveying populations and distribution, a project they hope to start next year. This amazing find again emphasizes why it is vital to conserve and protect this forever surprising place for the foreseeable future.