Singapore´s otters, long adored by the city-state´s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their … Unlike the rare colugos or the shy otters, these curious neighbors are easy to spot if you know where to look. The animals enter their private but open ponds and feed on the expensive pet fish within, such as tilapia and koi. Smooth-coated otters are not fussy eaters, and they tend to eat whatever is available where they are. Otters from the Bisham family react to a dog in Bay East Garden. One of the few wildlife species well-adapted to urban environments, otters are popular enough in the Garden City to be featured in David Attenborough’s Wild City documentary about Singapore in 2015, as well as in BBC Earth’s Wild Cities in 2019. The smooth-coated otters are believed to have swum across the Johor Straits from Malaysia to the north side of Singapore in 1998, before deciding to make the island their home. Cheeky otters are thriving in Singapore—and adapting quickly to big city life Like many urban species, the aquatic mammals are changing their behaviour to fit into … The Bishan otter family are among the most photographed of the 10 otter groups in Singapore. Whale populations in New York Harbour are booming—here's why, New frog species has special skin-puncturing claw, Colourful fish makes a splash as the 9,000th animal in our Photo Ark, First wild Sumatran rhino captured in urgent bid to save species, Endangered elephants trapped by world’s largest refugee camp, otters climbed up a metal maintenance ladder to exit a canal, lost 85,000 Singaporean dollars’ worth of ornamental fish over eight months, otter bit a five-year-old girl at a nature park, the Gardens by the Bay, Read how wildlife is hacking life in the city, vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Learn how wildlife can evolve quickly in cities, Read how hundreds of wild parrots have flocked to this Brazilian city, otter family suddenly ran across the Singapore Marathon route, Learn more about Singapore’s urban innovations. Accessed March 1, 2019. The rise of citizen science has also created an even wider pool of data on otter observations and documentation of species behaviour, with groups like the Otter Working Group actively helping in the management and rescue of otters. However, the adorable small-clawed otters, smaller in size than their smooth-coated counterparts, have also been highly trafficked in Southeast Asia, according to a report by wildlife conservation organisation Traffic. On a grassy strip along the highway, a blur of brown fur moves quickly, a small head popping up every so often to check for danger. 35 (3): 171 - 182. The long-tailed macaque is a species of monkey, typically in packs of 30, that are native to Singapore. “IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group Bulletin Volume 35 Issue 3 (2018).” Accessed January 14, 2019. Singapore has launched a new nature park that covers 400 hectares (990 acres), in an area that serves as a refueling site for migratory birds and a home to oriental hornbills, otters and crocodiles. During the 2000s, while Sungei Buloh continued to be a stronghold for the Smooth-coated Otters, this species started showing up along other stretches of our northern coastline. (Learn more about Singapore’s urban innovations.). The Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA) protects wildlife, but the law requires evidence of the act, which can make things difficult when preventive action is required. Some species are more aquatic than others but all otters are strong swimmers, well adapted to both marine and freshwater habitats. The Bishan family swins in Marina Bay with the iconic Singapore skyline in the background. We've seen appearances of the smooth coated otter in Singapore. The Otter Working Group Singapore was given a Christmas tree to decorate at the Singapore Botanic Gardens for the upcoming Yuletide season. These otters are surprisingly intelligent, able to climb out of drains and travel across large patches of land to get to other waterways. Singapore is infamous for its stringent anti-litter laws — even chewing gum is banned. “Marina Bay, including Kallang and Singapore Rivers, are the best places to see the otters as there are … https://cdn-images.kontinentalist.com/kontinentalist-story-asset-1551411308.mp3. Local scientist Meryl Theng who contributed to an international paper on the population movement of otters, brought this to light. For starters, the mammals share the waterways with another apex predator, the water monitor lizard, which preys on otter pups. It’s … https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330349070_Observations_of_the_Variation_in_Group_Structure_of_two_Urban_Smooth-Coated_Otter_Lutrogale_perspicillata_Groups_in_the_Central_Watershed_of_Singapore. *Special thanks to the community of avid otter watchers of Singapore, which has been so helpful in providing us photos, information, and datasets for this story on their beloved otters. Ottercity. Singapore's otters, long adored by the city-state's nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. A smooth-coated otter family is made up of monogamous parents, subadults, and between four and six pups. Although there was no known proof of actual rat poisoning, the otter died soon after in July 2017. After spending the morning fishing, the Bishan family rest ashore for a few hours. They're cute, furry and beloved by Singaporeans. Many of these enthusiasts have produced well-edited videos that vividly relay relatable stories about the otter populations in Singapore. The otters have become a popular local and international attraction since they were first spotted in 2014. The otter population in Singapore was initially thought extinct between the 1960s and 1970s, but sightings in the 1990s confirmed their presence in the Sungei Buloh wetlands area. Menu. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping centre, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen … Kathy writes marine and environmental stories at Kontinentalist. Homeowners in the gated-community enclave on the island of Sentosa reported in 2015 that their koi carp ponds had been emptied by otters, and one hotel in the same area lost 85,000 Singaporean dollars’ worth of ornamental fish over eight months, according to local news reports. “The only problem we foresee now is a lack of space for these territorial animals.”. The smooth-coated ones grow up to about a metre long and weigh about 11kg. “Distinguishing Features between Asian Small-Clawed Otters and Smooth-Coated Otters,” March 5, 2019. https://mothership.sg/2020/07/history-of-otters-in-singapore “BFM: The Business Radio Station - Citizen Science and the Case Study of Smooth-Coated Otters in Singapore.” Accessed January 4, 2019. International Otter Survival Fund.” Accessed March 1, 2019. Thankfully, several countries are concerned about stopping the trafficking of wild otters. In Sentosa Cove, a luxury district in an island off Singapore’s southern coast, residents have found the otters a problem. Of the 13 extant otter species, the Indian smooth-coated otter, Lutra perspicillata, has graced Singapore waters in recent years. (Learn how wildlife can evolve quickly in cities.). In 1977, the Singaporean government launched its Clean River Campaign, and in 1998, otters began to return to the tropical island on their own. There, two pups are nestled safely among the muddy tree roots, waiting for their parents to give the all-clear. Last week, otters made a surprising appearing on the agenda of CITES. Accessed January 14, 2019. According to Sivasothi, otters are social species, and they almost always travel together in families. 90K likes. Despite these run-ins, the Singaporeans are generally fond of their cheeky neighbours. OtterWatch, a Facebook page dedicated to Singapore's otters, posted a photo of the otter on Thursday afternoon, with the phrase, "In Memory of 1st Otter in our City. “It’s a really healthy population,” Johns says. Teo, Jeffrey. They now live all over the island—from the farming area of Kranji in the north to the manicured Singapore Botanic Gardens in the center to the glittering finance district of Marina Bay in the south. “Observations of the Variation in Group Structure of Two Urban Smooth-Coated Otter Lutrogale Perspicillata Groups in the Central Watershed of Singapore.” ResearchGate. hello@kontinentalist.com. When asked to vote for a mascot that would represent Singapore in its 2016 National Day celebrations, citizens voted wholeheartedly for the otter. There are two species of otters in SG – smooth-coated otters and Asian small-clawed otters. At the edge of the lake, two leashed dogs strain toward the Zouk family. If there is less food around, otter families will split up into smaller packs to seek food. Otters are just one of the country's numerous animal species. The Singapore otters’ main cause of death is vehicle strikes, with about five to six animals killed a year, according to Bernard Seah, a member of the Otter Working Group, a coalition of charity workers, government officials, and academics who monitor the otters and carry out awareness programs. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at The smooth-coated otters were residents in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in 1998, and the small … Singapore On a grassy strip along the highway, a blur of brown fur moves quickly, a small head popping up every so often to check for danger. This lets citizens help scientific researchers monitor otter behaviours, encouraging citizens to become more invested in Singapore’s wildlife and, hopefully, learn more about the country’s environmental policies. Meanwhile, zoologist Chan Yik Khan said without historic data, it is hard to tell what led to the otters making the Kepong park their home now. The two common species of otters in Singapore are the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus). Give them protection and healthy rivers with fish, and they will recover. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/paul-todd/asian-countries-propose-bans-commercial-trade-otters. These adorable half seal-, half dog-like critters have made a comeback in Singapore and the antics of these urban otters captured on CCTV and other footage have brought joy to millions of Singaporeans. Smooth-coated otters, native to the area, had disappeared and were in danger of being locally extinct. As citizen interest in urban otters has deepened, so has scientific research, as biologists seek to learn how urban otters fit into such a bustling landscape. IUCN Otter Spec. Their diet consists of fish, frogs, crabs, turtles etc. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping centre, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen … The first ever recorded otter sighting in Singapore actually dates back to 1938, on Lazarus Island, with the next sighting of otters recorded in the 1970s. “Singapore is the best example with the smooth-coated otters living right in the city center,” he said. Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. In the early 1990s, he recalls traveling to Penang in Malaysia to study the species, walking through the mangroves for hours, hoping to spot a single otter. Column One. (Read how hundreds of wild parrots have flocked to this Brazilian city.). Academics like assistant professor Philip Johns of Yale–NUS College’s Life Sciences Department are also looking to encourage citizen science by building a mobile app that allows anyone to easily upload high quality videos of the otters from their mobile phones. Thanks to the Singapore River clean up in 1977, its ecological conditions and biodiversity have proven ideal for supporting otters—a far cry from our once oxygen-starved waterways. The cuteness of wild otters has led to a spate of avid otter watching in Singapore. That said, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), an American environmental organisation with global reach, says that enforcement at the species level has not been carried out thoroughly. Most species of the semiaquatic animal live solitary lives. Interestingly, the branch of otters we now have in Singapore is believed to be a unique hybrid population—the, of an even union between both species, making it a surviving population that nearly went extinct. Experiencing information fatigue? Johns signals to approach the edge of the lake. To provide you with accurate know-how, we spoke to Marjorie from Ottercity on sure-fire ways to spot them at their favourite haunts – while keeping your distance at the same time. Population Structure, Distribution, and Habitat Use of Smooth-Coated Otters Lutrogale perspicillata in Singapore . A few months later, in February 2018, an angler was seen throwing rocks at otters swimming by the Punggol Waterfront. Accessed January 14, 2019. https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/otters-of-the-world/. Malaysia is home to four protected otter species: the smooth-coated otter that is listed as “threatened”, the Asian small-clawed otter, the hairy-nosed otter, and the Eurasian otter. “They are pushing the fish toward the shoreline so the pups can learn how to catch them,” he explains. Their diet usually reflects the diversity of fish species in the waters they inhabit, as well as the absence of predators. Known to Singaporeans at the Zouk family, this tribe of otters is revealing new insights into the lives of city-dwelling otters. Otter enthusiasts have also set up their own Facebook pages, such as Ottercity, to spot and track their movements. These sightings are of much delight to conservationists, as the presence of otters usually signals the health of the waters they are seen in. This photograph taken on May 29, 2020 shows a bevy of smooth-coated otters next to a canal in Singapore. An Otter Working Group was set up in Singapore, comprising researchers, conservationists, scientists, wildlife officers, and government institutions. Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. SINGAPORE: In 2017, when an otter bit a French girl in Gardens by the Bay, many observers attributed the accident to defensive behaviour as humans got too close to a wild animal. SINGAPORE: Three otters were spotted in the heart of Singapore's Central Business District on Sunday (Oct 28), swimming in a water feature outside office building One … Group Bull. There are more and more sightings of wild otters in Singapore in recent years. (In one humorous incident, otters climbed up a metal maintenance ladder to exit a canal.). Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for a concise roundup of our stories. Local groups are trying to minimize negative interactions between people, pets, and otters. The otters rise up out of the water, and suddenly the pups disappear. Most species of the semiaquatic animal live solitary lives. Singapore's otters, long adored by the city-state's nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. When the animals first reappeared in Singapore’s waterways, they were so unknown to most that “people thought that they could be beavers or seals,” says Sivasothi, who launched the website OtterWatch to help educate locals about these new inhabitants. The smooth-coated otters were residents in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in 1998, and the small-clawed otters have been around Pulau Tekong since the 1980s. Once thought to be extinct in Singapore, wild otters are making a comeback to the urban city state. The two common species of otters in Singapore are the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus). Otters are the subject of interest for many in Singapore, and a ground-up initiative to create a crowdsourced database on them—which you can add to!—has been completed. Back to wwf.sg; Blog; Categories. The otters in Singapore are the lucky ones; though once thought to be extinct here, wild otters have made a strong comeback in local waters. They are … Lutra Lutra, the Eurasian otter, can be found across vast swathes of the world from Portugal in the west all the way east to Korea and as far south as Sumatra, but otter populations globally have been in decline for decades. But the restored waters brought back an otter banquet: tilapia, catfish and all manner of exotic species, such as the yellow-hued Orinoco peacock bass. Such research may also be crucial information for how the species—found throughout much of Asia, from India to Myanmar (Burma) to Malaysia—can adapt to new environments. There are currently an estimated 10 families of otters in Singapore, numbering around 70 otters in total. ... About 10 otters died in Singapore last year from a combination of fighting and vehicle collisions. The two families fought in the Singapore River in July last year. There are two species of otters in SG – smooth-coated otters and Asian small-clawed otters… Moretti, Beatrice, Omar F Al-Sheikhly, Monica Guerrini, Meryl Theng, Brij K Gupta, Mukhtar K Haba, Waseem Khan, Aleem Khan, and Filippo Barbanera. Additionally, the team has found that to cope with the lack of available land, the otters are changing their behaviour—for instance by living with their parents longer. 3. The otters also now have Facebook fan pages, including Ottercity, which was founded by photographer Jeffery Teo. https://www.iucnosgbull.org/Volume35/Khoo_Sivasothi_2018b.html, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308317517_The_Smooth-Coated_Otter_Lutrogale_perspicillata_Mammalia_Mustelidae_in_Singapore_Establishment_and_Expansion_in_Natural_and_Semi-Urban_Environments. January 10, and 2019 Paul Todd. Otters are just one of the country's numerous animal species. Where to find them: Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, Pulau Ubin, Serangoon, Punggol, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. When free, she enjoys being in the ocean, trying to spot some sharks or just home cuddling with her cavvie, Danea. Reunited, the family forms a v-formation as they glide across the mirrored lake. Lutra Lutra, the Eurasian otter, can be found across vast swathes of the world from Portugal in the west all the way east to Korea and as far south as Sumatra, but otter populations globally have been in decline for decades. China is historically home to three species of otter. Once thought to be extinct in Singapore, wild otters are making a comeback to the urban city state. Most of Singapore's otters are the smooth-coated variety, classified as "vulnerable". Singapore's otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. Lone otters are typically males in search of a group, and the size of these groups varies according to what different environments can provide. The group was created in a bid to promote awareness and public education to protect of the now-native otters, as well as to mitigate potential increases in human–animal conflict. “The pups’ success rate is around 50 percent, while the adults’ success rate is closer to 100 percent. Singapore. Human–animal conflicts are common in urban spaces, but these can often be prevented with further awareness and education on appreciating Singapore’s native wildlife without threatening or encroaching on their territory. While most wild otters would leave their family at around two years old, Singapore’s otters will stay with their parents until three or four, as they wait for territory to open up. It's a far cry from 50 years ago, when Singapore’s rivers were choked with rotting animal carcasses, garbage, and sewage. Now, to do his research all he has to do is step outside his house to see the sleek, playful creatures that are doing just swimmingly in Singapore. Singapore has about 80 smooth-coated otters, also known as Lutrogale perspicillata - one of 13 otter species in the world. Singapore’s waterways today have enough marine life that otters can comfortably survive in them. It’s a family of seven otters, likely on their way to their den at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. “But if you ask Singaporeans about the otters now, they could not only tell you what species they are, but which family they belong to, and how many babies the family has.” (Read how wildlife is hacking life in the city.). https://www.bfm.my/dr-philip-johns-smooth-coated-otters-singapore.html. Accessed February 28, 2019. http://www.otterspecialistgroup.org/Bulletin/Volume35/Vol35_Iss3_Index.html?fbclid=IwAR3ym9QO54h5_T3-kFltGZo0NhDFg-SDN82abyznrNRFXbc9tELFllIhYbY. By 2014, the otter population had expanded to the west and south coasts of Singapore, and the current population had begun breeding by 2015. Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their … With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital, and even feasting on pricey fish stolen … Here, the Bishan family crosses a street in the city center. Take a walk on the wild side in Singapore, and you will find that one of the most adaptable immigrant wildlife species has made the island’s waterway systems its home, booming in number over the years. The smooth-coated otters were residents in the Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve in 1998, and the small-clawed otters have been around Pulau Tekong since the 1980s. Population Structure, Distribution, and Habitat Use of Smooth-Coated Otters Lutrogale perspicillata in Singapore . Singapore's very famous smooth-coated otters are a unique hybrid of two different species, reveals recent research. The creatures gobbled several fish including an arowana, a prized species that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Otter pups stay with their parents longer than otter pups in other more rural populations. Encouraging good wildlife ethics, along with public involvement in research and monitoring of the species, helps the ongoing conservation and management of otters in Singapore. Most have not been sighted in typical otter habitats—often the wilder plots of nature in the country. Did you know that wild otters are often sighted in Singapore? Khoo, M de Yuan and Sivasothi, N (2018)b. For instance, group members place road signs and educational signs at otter hot spots, as well as attempt to manage potential conflict. Put together by passionate people for people! Marina Dad, 2010 - … Singapore's otters, long adored by the city-state's nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. MAY 24 — One bright spot during the general disruption of Covid-19 has been the otters. A few from OWG along with a few otter enthusiasts helped in the preparations and to decorate this afternoon! One of the first male otters sighted in the Marina Bay family was suspected to have been poisoned. The current WABA review is addressing this. For instance, while otters generally are known as skilled hunters, Johns and his team have discovered that having pups dramatically lowers the adult Zouk otters’ success rate in hunting, since they have to spend a lot of their time teaching the pups to catch food. As the sun rises from behind the baobab trees in the botanic gardens one morning, Johns points to an otter family—the same one commuting along the highway—foraging among the reeds. They are the more familiar ones here and have been increasingly seen since the 1990s in … Mp3. Smooth-Coated Otters in Singapore Sound Recording by Philip Johns. Species: Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata). Accessed March 6, 2019. IUCN Otter Spec. The Smooth-Coated Otter is a species rated vulnerable by the IUCN Red Book, and its expanding numbers and habitat in Singapore are helpful to its survival. Mp3. Much of MNS’ knowledge on otters comes from operating the Kuala Selangor park for over 30 years, where three of the four otter species in Malaysia are kept. “It’s like the 35-year-old living in their parents’ basement,” Johns quips. Commuters sitting in evening traffic appear oblivious, likely already accustomed to seeing the charismatic mammals traipsing about this Southeast Asian metropolis of 5.7 million. Singapore, Singapore | Singapore's otters, long adored by the city-state's nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. Of the 13 extant otter species, the Indian smooth-coated otter, Lutra perspicillata, has graced Singapore waters in recent years. Singapore's otter families all have names. Most of Singapore´s otters are the smooth-coated variety, classified as "vulnerable". India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines have submitted proposals for a ban on the international trade of Asian small-clawed otters and smooth-coated otters. 90K likes. http://www.otter.org/audioSamples/AsianSmallClawedOtter.mp3. The creatures gobbled several fish including an arowana, a prized species that can sell for tens of thousands of dollars. I was delighted to learn that the otters in Singapore are hybrids of two species, the first known case in wild otters. A paper published in Oryx in 2017 found a devastating drop in otter populations in another part of Asia: China. The Otter Working Group’s methods—such as bringing together various types of citizens to help the otters—are now being adopted in Taiwan’s Kinmen Island and in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, which also have burgeoning populations of urban otters. The amount of space an otter needs depends on how much food is available, but they can maintain a large territory; one animal can travel nine miles a day. For otters to continue thriving, they require adequate space to feed in, reproduce, dry their fur, and rest. There are thirteen otter species spread around the world. 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Of Asia: the smooth-coated variety, classified as `` vulnerable '' in dens, which can grow nearly... Popular local and international attraction since they were first driven from a of... Be seen in public parks and some urban areas in-depth stories about otters! Family crosses a street in the city center, ” he said way... Otters living right in the coastal waters of northern Japan old, swim behind their relatives search! Become a popular local and international attraction since they were first driven from a combination fighting! A spate of avid otter watching in Singapore, numbering around 70 otters in Singapore, numbering around 70 in. Are the smooth-coated otter, which preys on otter pups in other more rural.. Have not been sighted in typical otter habitats—often the wilder plots of nature in the 1990s,! Used by other animals such as ottercity, which was founded by Jeffery... For compelling storytelling from the Los Angeles Times two families fought in the 1990s for!