Hopes alive for near-extinct otter seen in Borneo

Hopes alive for near-extinct otter seen in Borneo

The image of the hairy-nosed otter - sometimes called Asia’s rarest - was captured by a remote camera planted by scientists in a forest reserve and could bolster conservationists’ efforts to seek stronger government protection for threatened species in Borneo’s biologically diverse jungles.

The otter derives its name from hairs at the end of its nose. It has mainly brown fur, a flat tail and a whitish chin. Its population has declined mainly because of hunting for its fur and meat as well as the loss of its wetland habitats.

The photograph was taken in Malaysia’s Sabah state in the second half of 2008, but international scientists needed nearly two years to study it before confirming it was indeed the hairy-nosed otter, said Laurentius Ambu, director of the Sabah Wildlife Department. Researchers from the wildlife department, Sabah’s Forest Department and the Germany-based Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research have reviewed the photo.
Indigenous to Southeast Asia, the otter was once believed to be extinct in Malaysia and severely threatened elsewhere. Sightings in Vietnam and Cambodia several years ago have raised hopes for its survival, Ambu said.

“This is a historic finding. We know this species is very rare, but we don’t know how rare,” he told. The otter was last spotted on Borneo in 1997, when it was found dead on a road in Brunei. The species has not been seen in Malaysia for more than 100 years, he said.

Comments (+)