Resources Himalaya Foundation and Environmental Graduates in Himalaya organized a monthly program Guff-Gaff with Prof. Paras Mani Acharya, Pioneer Otter Researcher in Nepal. Prof. Acharya presented a talk on “Otter Research in Nepal: Experiences and Hurdles in Conservation.” With short welcoming note and the introduction of the guest speaker by EGH coordinator, Ms. Srijana Sigdel, the platform was handed over to the guest speaker.
Informing about three species of otter found in Nepal, the talk, based on his long working experience, emphasized on the researches conducted and associated hurdles. Giving an overview on the researches, the talk specified that researches are on preliminary phase and more concentrated on Smooth coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra); however, existence of the Asian small clawed otter (Aonyx cinereus) is still questionable. The talk highlighted the evidences of smooth-coated otter presence in many river systems such as recent camera trapped picture in Koshi-Tappu Wildlife Reserve, photographed at Tubang River, large footprints (upto 9-10 cm) in Rapti River. Nepal lacks systematic researches on otter particularly in river systems in eastern Nepal. Summing up, the talk acclaimed of lack of in depth research on ecological aspects such as habitat components, prey selection, behavior, and genetic analysis in Nepal. Regarding the hurdles in conservation, some factors such as conflicts, threats of human and their livelihood, stakeholder influence, policies and practice, and compliances were discussed. The talk ended, providing the clear insight on the loopholes on otter conservation in Nepal as species is not included in the protected list, lacks national data base with data-driven action plan, and weak enforcement in river extraction projects.