Otters sometime also called as water dogs are used to occur in most of the Indian subcontinent but now listed as a vulnerable species due to extensive poaching, loss of wetland habitat and contamination of water.
Otters Species Found in India
The most widely distributed otter species are Eurasian otter, Asian Small Clawed Otter and Smooth coated otter, Otters are protected species in India under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Smooth Coated Otter
Smooth Coated Otter is a large species found in the Indian subcontinent and Asia. The smooth coated otter occurs in seasonal swamps, rivers and rice paddies in most of India. Credit: WildOtters
Asian Small Clawed Otter
Asian small clawed otter or small-clawed otters are smallest otter species, inhabits swamps, mangrove forest and freshwater wetlands of North east India, in the Kaziranga Tiger Reserve in Assam and Southeast Asia.
Eurasian Otter is native to Eurasia but also found in the waterways, rivers and coast of many countries of Asia and in India, mostly distributed in the Himalayan foothills, Western Ghats and the central India.
Hairy Nosed Otter – Possibly Extinct
The rarest and least known species of otter is possibly extinct in India, threatened by loss of habitat and poaching for fur.
Riverine Habitat of Indian Otters
The Water Dogs of Indian rivers are on the brink and need our immediate conservation action to save them from extinction, here is the list of best rivers to spot otters in India and the list also includes Thuthapuzha river in Kerala,Moyar river in Tamil Nadu, Tapi River in Gujarat and Brahmaputra River in Assam.
Mandovi River – Goa
Chorao Island along the Mandovi river is the largest among other islands of Goa and accessible by the ferry from Ribandar. The island is a beautiful bird sanctuary with picturesque Church, Temples, Villages and Goa’s best kept secret of Smooth coated otter.
Tungabhadra River – Karnataka
River’s of Karnataka are home to smooth coated otters and also the state has India’s first ever otter reserve as Tungabhadra Otter Reserve Sanctuary. Tungabhadra river along with Kabini river and Cauvery river of Karnataka, also supports population of Smooth coated otters.
Chambal River – Central India
Chambal River is one of the pollution free rivers of India and home to 2 species of crocodilians, species of freshwater turtles, gangetic river dolphins, Indian skimmers and smooth-coated otters.
Ganga/Brahmaputra Delta – West Bengal
Sundarbans is the mangrove area and heaven for otters, where otters are used for commercial fishing by fishermen of Bangladesh, bred in captivity and trained for fishing.