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Otter learns skills to live in wild

Jorhat, Dec. 30: Oli, the otter pup, which was rescued by the villagers of Mohpora near Kaziranga National Park in September, will be rehabilitated in the wild in the next rainy season.

The smooth-coated otter pup was rescued, along with two others, from a waterbody near Kaziranga and sent to the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC). The three pups were found floating on water hyacinth.

After the CWRC officials failed to locate the mother, the three were brought to the centre.

While two of the pups died, one is currently being hand-raised at the centre.

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.

The pup is the smallest mammal at the centre.

“Oli is doing fine and is growing fast. We have created an enclosure for the pup, comprising a small pond and we are also teaching the pup to learn how to fish,” an official at the centre said.

He said the artificial pond and its surroundings have been modified to resemble the natural habitat of otters and Oli is learning fishing skills. “Oli spends the day in the enclosure fishing, while at night it is housed in a nursery. It is still bottle-fed thrice a day, though he has learnt the art of catching live fish.”

The official said the otter pup was apprehensive of the water in the beginning, but has eventually taken the plunge.

“During the first two days, Oli was hesitant to enter the water. He carefully touched the water, drank some but mostly kept away. After a few days, and with a little encouragement from our team, Oli jumped into the pond where fish were swimming providing Oli with an opportunity to learn a critical skill,” the official said.

However, during his first “water day”, Oli remained in the shallow end of the pond.

“Now, after few days of exercise, he is much more active in the water, especially around fish. He is gradually developing his hunting instincts,” he said.

He added that Oli remains in his new enclosure the whole day, basking in the sun or swimming or sleeping, under the watchful eyes of our veterinarians and animal keepers. At night, he is housed in a wooden enclosure in the nursery area.

Oli weighs a little less than a kilogram, and he’s nearly three months old.

“Once Oli is able to navigate the water and hunt with ease, he will be moved to a forest camp for his final rehabilitation stage,” the official said.

He said it was most likely that the pup would be released near or at the area from where it was found during the rainy season.

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