| An otter pup being fed at the wildlife centre in Golaghat district. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, Sept. 11: The Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in Golaghat district has admitted three otter pups, which were rescued by the people of Mahpora village, on the fringes of Kaziranga National Park, a few days ago.
“The three pups were found in a water body, floating on water hyacinth leaves. They probably got separated from their mother during the floods and are yet to open their eyes. We will hand-raise these pups and release them when they grow up,” an official at CWRC told The Telegraph today.
This is the first time that otter pups have been admitted to the centre. Smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) are found across South and Southeast Asia and are listed under vulnerable category in the IUCN Red List. It is listed under Schedule II of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
The official said an otter pup was rescued from poachers at Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar a few years back and was subsequently hand-raised. “It was rehabilitated in the sanctuary by a team of experts from Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University,” the official said. He said otters are generally easy to rehabilitate. “We just have to let the otters swim at a release site for a certain period of time. We should provide them with fish during this period then they will learn to hunt fish on their own,” the official said.
The CWRC official said the three male pups are being bottle-fed and are being constantly monitored by veterinarians and animal keepers at the centre. “Since we are dealing with such a rare species, that, too, for the first time, we are extra cautious,” the official said.He said although otters are quite common in these areas, the species has not been rescued earlier because these animals are aquatic and floods generally do not have an impact on them.
“These animals also stay away from human population and hardly come into conflict,” the official said.
Apart from dealing with rhinos, tigers and leopards, the CWRC, set up about a decade ago, has been involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of several species of animals, including some rare ones.
A few months back, a binturong, also known as a bearcat, was admitted to the centre. The animal, which was blind in one eye, was provided treatment and released a few weeks later.
“Several rhino calves which were hand-raised at the centre have been transferred to Manas National Park in the last few years. One of these hand-raised rhinos has also given birth at Manas,” the official said.
The main aim of the centre, he said, is to rehabilitate the animals that are rescued. “The hand-raised animals which have no chance of survival in the wild are shifted to lifetime care facilities in zoos. Recently, we shifted a leopard to a zoo in Nagaland,” the official said.