Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How many species of otter world wide?

Many may not know that we have only 13 species of otters world wide, and all of them are on the IUCN Redlist.
The 13 species are: -
  1. African clawless otter
  2. Asian small-clawed otter
  3. Congo clawless otter
  4. Sea otter
  5. North American river otter
  6. Marine otter
  7. Neotropical otter
  8. South American river otter
  9. Eurasian otter
  10. Spotted-Necked otter
  11. Hairy-Nosed otter
  12. Smooth-Coated otter
  13. Giant otter
Source: IUCN OSG
In Singapore we have the smooth-coated that we see frequently on social media and in the press.
Smooth-coated otters at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
The other lesser known species is the Asian small-clawed which isn't present on the main island but may be on Ubin and Tekong. It's also shyer than their larger relative. We can only see these in the Zoo and Night Safari where they have a  captive population.
Asian small-clawed otter at the Zoo
They are about half the size of the smooth-coated and is also the smallest otter of the 13 species. They have incomplete webbed feet hence aren't as strong swimmers as the smooth-coated which have fully webbed feet.
Fully webbed foot of a smooth-coated otter
If you want to learn more go on down to the Festival of Biodiversity that takes place on 3 & 4 September pointing you to Otterman's blog for more information. 
In South East Asia there are four species - smooth-coated, Asian small-clawed, hairy-nosed and Eurasian otters.
Some might remark there's another otter species in River Safari. They are the giant otter from South America. They are huge and just as otterly adorable as all other species.


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Blogging again....

Some of my friends have been urging me to start writing again. Since I wasn't teaching and still nursing a cough, I thought I'd refresh my blog and also write an update. 
Wow! it has been a year since I last posted. During that time frame many things happened: -

The Famous Five is now the Bishan 10
The pair had another litter of five pups in the Kallang Basin area at the beginning of 2016. Since then they've been in the media darlings. BBC News called them "Singapore's celebrity urban otter family". NatGeo Wild, referred to them as the river-siders in their documentary - Otter Town that was recently released in the US. The family is also in the running to be our 51st icon to represent our nationhood. They also delighted many of the delegates from the 13th International Otter Congress 2016, which was held here in Singapore. The International Otter Congress, held once every few years, gathers members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Otter Specialist Group (OSG) to discuss conservation statuses, future strategies and threat mitigation for the 13 otter species.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The story of the little town parrots

I was in Little India having some fun locating street art in the back alleys. While photographing people who collect cardboard boxes for recycling, I heard a familiar tweeter of my little nemesis - the blue-crowned hanging parrot. It sounded close, like directly above me.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Bishan otters: A pictorial story

Against all odds

Spotted a pair of grey-rumped treeswifts in the midst of building a nest cup on March 01. The female had almost finished her work.
Forgot about the pair as I focused my attention on watching and learning about the pair of smooth-coated otters that are in neighborhood. On April 21, dropped by the location to check on the pair to find this little fella sitting in the nest cup. That afternoon, we had a huge storm but I didn't go on site to check on the chick.
When I did on April 23, the nest was empty and the parents were flying around but there wasn't any calls from the chick. I felt sorry for the parents as they has lost a chick that was so close to fledging. The next day, they were still hanging around and showed no signs of leaving the area. I thought to myself there may be a glimmer of hope.
On April 27, while passing the area I heard the excited calls and then saw one of the parent shadowing its fledgling in flight. It was probably the best Monday I had knowing that the little fella survived the storm and fledged.
Daddy was trying to coax it to fly but the fledgeling wanted to be fed instead. He flew off leaving the young one to stretch its wings, and wonder when one of its parents will relent and feed it.