What is a Smooth-Coated Otter?

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What is a Smooth-Coated Otter? Blog Image


The Kawal Tiger Reserve is evolving into a thriving haven for an intriguing aquatic species, the smooth-coated otter, referred to as “Neeti Pilli” in Telugu.

About Smooth-Coated Otter

  • It is a species of otter, the only extant representative of the genus Lutrogale. 
  • Scientific Name: Lutrogale perspicillata
  • Distribution:
    • They are found throughout much of southern Asia, from India eastward.
    • There is also an isolated population found in the marshes of Iraq.
  • Habitat:
    • They are mostly found in lowlands, coastal mangrove forests, peat swamp forests, freshwater wetlands, large forested rivers, lakes, and rice paddies.
    • Some build permanent burrows near water with an underwater entrance and a tunnel that leads to a chamber above the high-water line.
    • Although adapted for water, smooth-coated otters are equally comfortable on land and can travel long distances overland in search of suitable habitat. 
  • Features:
    • They are the largest otter in Southeast Asia. They weigh 7-11 kg as adults and can be up to 1.3 m long.
    • As its name indicates, the fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other otters.
    • The fur is light to dark brown dorsally and light brown to almost gray ventrally.
    • They have short, tightly packed under fur and longer, water-repellant guard hairs.
    • They are strong swimmers and hunt in groups. When fishing, they travel in a V-formation going upstream.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

Key Facts about Kawal Tiger Reserve

  • Location:
    • It is located in the north-eastern part of Telangana, with the Godavari River on one side and the Maharashtra border on the other.
    • It forms part of the Deccan peninsula-central highlands.
  • Rivers: The reserve is the catchment for the rivers Godavari and Kadam, which flow towards the south of the sanctuary.
  • Corridor: It has connectivity to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve of Maharashtra in the North and to the Indravati Tiger Reserve of Chhattisgarh towards its north-eastern side.
  • Vegetation: Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest.
  • Habitat: It has diverse habitats, comprising dense forests, grasslands, open areas, rivers, streams, and water bodies.
  • Flora:
    • Teak is found extensively, along with Bamboo.
    • As many as 673 plant species have been recorded, and the important ones are Anogeissus latifolia, Mitragyna parviflora, Terminalia crenulata, etc.
  • Fauna:
    • It has a faunal diversity which is typical of the Deccan Plateau.
    • The major wild animals include: nilgai, chousinga, chinkara, black buck, sambar, spotted deer, wild dog, wolf, jackal, fox, tiger, leopard, and the jungle cat.

Q1) What are peat swamp forests?

Peat swamp forests form in areas where saturated soils or frequent flooding prevent organic material from fully decomposing. As this organic material slowly accumulates, it retains even more water through capillary action: up to 13 times its weight. Acting as a giant sponge that holds in the moisture, peat swamps eventually form a dome of wet organic material that can rise above the surrounding flood levels.

Source: Kawal Tiger Reserve turns a haven for smooth-coated otters