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Smooth-coated ones grow up to 1.2m long and 11kg in weight. Two otter families in Singapore got into an epic gang fight in the portion of the canal that cuts through Braddell near Bishan. The smooth-coated otters were residents in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in 1998, and the small-clawed otters have been around Pulau Tekong since the 1980s. "Rather than being focused on protecting ´territory´, we must find ways to coexist and thrive with our local flora and fauna," he wrote. There are two species of otters in SG – smooth-coated otters and Asian small-clawed otters. Still, otter experts believe the anger is an overreaction and that the creatures are likely just enjoying the extra freedom to venture to new places. Group Bull. on the population movement of otters, brought this to light. With local communities, the group monitors otter populations and movement in Singapore to resolve issues and protect the species. https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/otters-of-the-world/. In-depth stories about Asia and more delivered straight to your inbox every month. Experiencing information fatigue? IUCN Otter Spec. Accessed February 25, 2019. “Asian Countries Propose Bans on Commercial Trade in Otters.” NRDC. Fewer still have seen a “romp” of them. These sightings are of much delight to conservationists, as the presence of otters usually signals the health of the waters they are seen in. Want to know the remaining 5 most threatened species in Singapore? "When there´s restriction of movement, there´s less vehicles and there´s less people, so the urban space opens up," said N. Sivasothi, a biologist at the National University of Singapore known as "Otterman" due to his work on the animals. NUS´s Sivasothi criticised calls for a cull as "quite an uneducated response", and said such a move would be ineffective. Otters are members of the weasel family (Mustelidae), and while there are several other species of mustelids in Southeast Asia, such as hog badgers, ferret-badgers, the Yellow-throated Marten, and several weasels, otters are the only representatives of this family in Singapore. Critically, the fish species that otters rely on as sources of food need to thrive in Singapore’s waterways for the otters to remain. http://www.otter.org/Public/AboutOtters_OtterSpecies.aspx. Today, a population of at least 60 hybrid otters exists in Singapore. Academics like assistant professor Philip Johns of Yale–NUS College’s Life Sciences Department are also looking to encourage citizen science by building a mobile app that allows anyone to easily upload high quality videos of the otters from their mobile phones. But their newfound freedoms appear to have emboldened the otters, and they are now facing a backlash. Moretti, Beatrice, Omar F Al-Sheikhly, Monica Guerrini, Meryl Theng, Brij K Gupta, Mukhtar K Haba, Waseem Khan, Aleem Khan, and Filippo Barbanera. Most otter species come ashore to give birth in dens, which sometimes have been used by other animals such as beavers. The smooth-coated otters were residents in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in 1998, and the small-clawed otters have been around Pulau Tekong since the 1980s. There are four species of river otters in Asia: the smooth-coated otter, small-clawed otter, hairy-nosed otter, and Eurasian otter. Announcement 1 of 4: Night Safari is open every day from 19 Nov 2020 to 17 Jan 2021, as well as eve of and on public holidays. http://www.otterspecialistgroup.org/Bulletin/Volume35/Vol35_Iss3_Index.html?fbclid=IwAR3ym9QO54h5_T3-kFltGZo0NhDFg-SDN82abyznrNRFXbc9tELFllIhYbY. In Malay folklore, the mousedeer is witty enough to outsmart larger, more dangerous animals: In Malay folklore, the mousedeer is witty enough to outsmart larger, more dangerous animals: Below are several diagnostic features that set them apart from other Asian species. Residents have erected fences to keep them out, but nature conservationists note that these fences, deployed neither adequately or appropriately, have been effective at stopping otters adapted to surviving in the urban environment. In Singapore, the Smooth‐coated otter Lutrogale perspicillata, a species listed as Critically Endangered in the Singapore Red Data Book (Davison et al., 2008) and Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/paul-todd/asian-countries-propose-bans-commercial-trade-otters. She was history-trained but does other things now instead, like running an ecotourism shark conservation business, The Dorsal Effect. The otters´ more frequent forays onto the streets of Singapore are part of a global trend triggered by virus lockdowns, with animals increasingly slipping cover to explore the streets of some of the world´s biggest cities. Today there are otter families across the island, even in the heart of downtown Singapore. Mp3. Singapore has two species of otters. Most have not been sighted in typical otter habitats—often the wilder plots of nature in the country. These smallest of 13 otter species in the world are social and playful animals. Let’s start with monkeys, though not the lunch stealing long tailed macaques. Interestingly, the branch of otters we now have in Singapore is believed to be a unique hybrid population—the, of an even union between both species, making it a surviving population that nearly went extinct. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for a concise roundup of our stories. Many of these enthusiasts have produced well-edited videos that vividly relay relatable stories about the otter populations in Singapore. How do otters survive in a highly urbanised city state like Singapore? The first ever recorded otter sighting in Singapore actually dates back to 1938, on Lazarus Island, with the next sighting of otters recorded in the 1970s. They are the more familiar ones here and have been … Teo, Jeffrey. But the restored waters brought back an otter banquet: tilapia, catfish and all manner of exotic species, such as the yellow-hued Orinoco peacock bass. The otters of Singapore have proven flexible in adapting quickly to an urbanised landscape, having had to cope with very little space to dry off their fur. The smooth-coated otter is currently classified as a critically endangered species in Singapore, and until 1998 there had been no reported sightings since the 1970s. In Sentosa Cove, a luxury district in an island off Singapore’s southern coast, residents have found the otters a problem. “Phylogeography of the Smooth-Coated Otter (Lutrogale Perspicillata): Distinct Evolutionary Lineages and Hybridization with the Asian Small-Clawed Otter (Aonyx Cinereus).” Scientific Reports 7 (January 27, 2017): 1–13. We won't be giving details to protect it but we would like to share with you what an Asian Small-clawed Otter roaming Singapore looks like. The creatures gobbled several fish including an arowana, a prized species that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. 35 (3): 171 – 182). Few urbanites have seen an otter. IUCN Otter Spec. Otter groups here told The New Paper that they get messages from fans across the globe asking where to find the animals if they were to visit Singapore. *Special thanks to the community of avid otter watchers of Singapore, which has been so helpful in providing us photos, information, and datasets for this story on their beloved otters. Fans believe people should be celebrating the return of an animal that was driven out of Singapore by coastal development and water pollution around the 1970s, and only started reappearing in the 1990s as waterways were cleaned. The rise of citizen science has also created an even wider pool of data on otter observations and documentation of species behaviour, with groups like the Otter Working Group actively helping in the management and rescue of otters. Otter enthusiasts have also set up their own Facebook pages, such as Ottercity, to spot and track their movements. Otters are the subject of interest for many in Singapore, and a ground-up initiative to create a crowdsourced database on them—which you can add to!—has been completed. The resulting offspring and their descendants bred back into the smooth-coated otter population, but maintained the genes of their small-clawed otter ancestors. He also said many recent sightings were likely of the same family of smooth-coated otters, which have been searching for a new home along the city´s rivers. Accessed March 1, 2019. The smooth-coated otters were residents in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in 1998, and the small-clawed otters have been around Pulau Tekong since the 1980s. N. Sivasothi, a senior lecturer from the Department of Biological Science, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, has been monitoring and following these otters with his students for years. Yet in Singapore, the most urbanized country in the world, commuters … “Otters of the World.” Discover Wildlife. 35 (3): 171 – 182 Key words: population census, urban adapter, mammal, conservation management, citizen science INTRODUCTION Of the four Asian species of otters, the Local scientist Meryl Theng who contributed to an international paper on the population movement of otters, brought this to light. Take a walk on the wild side in Singapore, and you will find that one of the most adaptable immigrant wildlife species has made the island’s waterway systems its home, booming in number over the years. This species … The Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA) protects wildlife, but the law requires evidence of the act, which can make things difficult when preventive action is required. The otters have been heralded as a major success and they are the unofficial emblem of our city's successful re-greening efforts. Accessed March 6, 2019. Mp3. Local scientist Meryl Theng who contributed to an international. January 10, and 2019 Paul Todd. Accessed January 14, 2019. “Observations of the Variation in Group Structure of Two Urban Smooth-Coated Otter Lutrogale Perspicillata Groups in the Central Watershed of Singapore.” ResearchGate. Did you know that wild otters are often sighted in Singapore? Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong weighed in on the debate Friday, posting a photo he took of otters before the lockdown on his Facebook account. Cambridge International releases AS and A level results for Nov 2020 exams, Landslides kill at least 12 people in Indonesia, Pakistan women’s cricket squad clears COVID-19 tests before leaving for South Africa, Bioniks chief urges President Alvi to help subsidise prosthetic limbs for the underprivileged. Four species of otters have been recorded from Malaysia and Singapore in the past: Lutra lutra (Common or Eurasian Otter), Lutra sumatrana (Hairy-nosed Otter), Lutrogale perspicillata (Smooth Otter) and Amblonyx cinereus (Oriental Small-clawed Otter). Smooth-coated otters are not fussy eaters, and they tend to eat whatever is available where they are. Otters need space to rest and sleep, and especially to dry their fur off after a hunting swim—this helps them maintain the waterproofing ability of their fur before they return to the water again. Population Structure, Distribution, and Habitat Use of Smooth-Coated Otters Lutrogale perspicillata in Singapore . A few months later, in February 2018, an angler was seen throwing rocks at otters swimming by the Punggol Waterfront. Theng, Meryl, and Sivasothi N. “The Smooth-Coated Otter Lutrogale Perspicillata (Mammalia: Mustelidae) in Singapore: Establishment and Expansion in Natural and Semi-Urban Environments.” IUCN/SCC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin 33 (January 1, 2016): 37–49. The two common species of otters in Singapore are the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus). Encouraging good wildlife ethics, along with public involvement in research and monitoring of the species, helps the ongoing conservation and management of otters in Singapore. The case sparked a debate about whether more should be done to stop otters rampaging through the city, with a widely discussed letter in a local newspaper calling for air horns and rubber bullets to be used as deterrents. The two common species of otters in Singapore are the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus). Although there can be overlaps in size with the cubs of larger specie… Population Structure, Distribution, and Habitat Use of Smooth-Coated Otters Lutrogale perspicillata in Singapore . Housing one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater fauna, the park features over 6,000 animals including 40 threatened species. One of the few wildlife species well-adapted to urban environments, otters are popular enough in the Garden City to be featured in David Attenborough’s Wild City documentary about Singapore in 2015, as well as in BBC Earth’s Wild Cities in 2019. Interestingly, the branch of otters we now have in Singapore is believed to be a unique hybrid population—the result of an even union between both species, making it a surviving population that nearly went extinct. 35 (3): 171 - 182. "Wild boars have never been encouraged to enter urban areas, neither should otters be just because they look cute," wrote Ong Junkai in the correspondence to the Straits Times, which triggered calls from some for a cull. Announcement 1 of 2: Night Safari is open every day from 19 Nov 2020 to 17 Jan 2021, as well as eve of and on public holidays. Their diet usually reflects the diversity of fish species in the waters they inhabit, as well as the absence of predators. There are currently an estimated 10 families of otters in Singapore, numbering around 70 otters in total. However, the adorable small-clawed otters, smaller in size than their smooth-coated counterparts, have also been highly trafficked in Southeast Asia, according to a report by wildlife conservation organisation Traffic. “Wild Otters Are the Latest Exotic Pet Trend.” Animals, January 10, 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330349070_Observations_of_the_Variation_in_Group_Structure_of_two_Urban_Smooth-Coated_Otter_Lutrogale_perspicillata_Groups_in_the_Central_Watershed_of_Singapore. Smooth-Coated Otters in Singapore Sound Recording by Philip Johns. Accessed February 28, 2019. Most of Singapore´s otters are the smooth-coated variety, classified as "vulnerable". When the animals first reappeared in Singapore’s waterways, they were so unknown to most that “people thought that they could be beavers or seals,” says Sivasothi, who launched the website OtterWatch to help educate … The former is nocturnal and harder to spot, while the latter (above) is commonly spotted … They featured in a documentary narrated by David Attenborough, are tracked avidly by the local media -- and have been spotted more frequently since people were asked to stay home and workplaces closed in April to fight the virus. Two otter species occur in Singapore. The animals enter their private but open ponds and feed on the expensive pet fish within, such as tilapia and koi. Sea otters are the exception, giving birth in … Khoo, M de Yuan and Sivasothi, N (2018)b. October 19, 2020, 05:57 PM JJ Lin hosting YouTube live with celebrity friends on … Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at Otterwatch, another Facebook group focused on otters, was set up in 2012 by the National University of Singapore’s N. Sivasothi to help support several student projects with otters. These otters are surprisingly intelligent, able to climb out of drains and travel across large patches of land to get to other waterways. According to Sivasothi, otters are social species, and they almost always travel together in families. They include the larger and more common smooth-coated otter Lutrogale perspicillataand this species which is cat-sized when fully grown. https://cdn-images.kontinentalist.com/kontinentalist-story-asset-1551411308.mp3. While Singapore is home to two species of otters — the smooth-coated otter and the small-clawed otter — only the former is popularly known and spotted across the island. If there is less food around, otter families will split up into smaller packs to seek food. Though Singapore's landscape has rapidly urbanised over the past 50 years, the highly adaptable smooth-coated otter continues to exist and perhaps even thrive here, as sightings of it have increased over the last decade 12. Though education alone is not enough to change behaviours around our wildlife, several impassioned otter watchers have been volunteering their services to help new otter watchers stay mindful of their subjects—a heartening gesture. One of the first male otters sighted in the Marina Bay family was suspected to have been poisoned. In July 2016, the 13th International Otter Symposium was held in Singapore for the first time. However, in Singapore, the Smooth-coated otter Lutro- gale perspicillata has made a tremendous rebound There are estimated to be about 90 otters in Singapore, making up 10 families, and appearances at popular tourist sites around the city-state´s downtown waterfront have transformed them into local celebrities. IUCN Otter Spec. Download the full report . This species of lesser mouse-deer is unique to Singapore, but don’t be surprised if you don’t see it. They are really cute," said Pam Wong, a 35-year-old Singaporean. hello@kontinentalist.com. The group was created in a bid to promote awareness and public education to protect of the now-native otters, as well as to mitigate potential increases in human–animal conflict. Although there was no known proof of actual rat poisoning, the otter died soon after in July 2017. https://www.iucnosgbull.org/Volume35/Khoo_Sivasothi_2018b.html, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308317517_The_Smooth-Coated_Otter_Lutrogale_perspicillata_Mammalia_Mustelidae_in_Singapore_Establishment_and_Expansion_in_Natural_and_Semi-Urban_Environments. The two common species of otters in Singapore are the. “Distinguishing Features between Asian Small-Clawed Otters and Smooth-Coated Otters,” March 5, 2019. Singapore. Singapore has 2 species of otters, the Smooth-coated Otter and the very elusive Asian Small-clawed Otter. For National University of Singapore biologist Sivasothi N, the arrival of the Singapore otter—and its popularity among residents—is a welcome development. Group Bull. (Oriental Small-clawed Otter). Meanwhile, zoologist Chan Yik Khan said without historic data, it is hard to tell what led to … It is a mammal, often spotted in our mangroves, mudflats and coastal areas, where it forages for clams, fish, and other small creatures. Thanks to the Singapore River clean up in 1977, its ecological conditions and biodiversity have proven ideal for supporting otters—a far cry from our once oxygen-starved waterways. The Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is the largest otter in Southeast Asia, and is named after its velvety smooth coat. (Oriental Small-clawed Otter). Singapore . adapting quickly to an urbanised landscape, 15 to 25 percent of their body weight each day, an angler was seen throwing rocks at otters. Smooth-coated ones grow up to 1.2m long and 11kg in weight. The most high-profile incident was a raid on a pond at a spa shuttered due to the pandemic. 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