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Against the Current
Published by Kausalya Shenoy, 01 Mar 2003
Two species of otter are found along the River Cauvery. While the Oriental small-clawed otter inhabits the forested stretches of the river in the upper reaches, the smooth-coated otter inhabits the lower tracts. Limiting human disturbances along these stretches and curbing the poaching of otters and illegal trade in pelts are vital for the conservation of otter populations in this region.
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Although carnivores have fascinated man through the ages, carnivorous mammals that dominate riverine landscapes have never excited the human mind as lions and tigers have done. Otters have always played second fiddle. However, ecologically, otters are a highly adaptive, social and intelligent group of animals that deserve better study and protection. When Ando Motokazu of the Otter Research Group, Japan wrote to me of his desire to hold an otter workshop India, we were happy as an organization based in Delhi to provide logistical support to him. The workshop was held in March 2002 and discussed many ways of conserving otters. One of the eager young participants of this workshop was Kausalya Shenoy.

After the workshop ended, WTI found that it had a small amount of money left over from the amount given by the Otter Research Group. As the money had come in specifically with the request that it be used for otter conservation, WTI supported Kausalya to conduct this otter survey in the Cauvery. Her work has highlighted the areas that are important for otter conservation along this stretch and if the Coorg Wildlife Society and other bodies that do commendable work in the area can take this up, an oft-ignored group of animals can get the protection they deserve.
Vivek Menon
New Delhi Executive Director
Wildlife Trust of India
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